Report: Jerusalem off the table for Palestinian deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his Cabinet he would not agree to any reference to Jerusalem in the framework peace deal being drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry, according to a report.

Senior Israeli officials told Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the meeting between Netanyahu and members of his Likud Party coalition.

One of the officials said Netanyahu would not agree to a proposal that requires part of a Palestinian capital to be in Jerusalem. 

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be part of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu, however, remains steadfast on this front, even if it means the negotiations fail.

Kerry reinvigorated direct negotiations between the two sides last summer and has aimed to help broker a final status agreement by the end of April.

Israel, meanwhile, has made the talks more difficult by announcing on Friday 1,400 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In recent conversations with Kerry, Netanyahu “only tried to flatten and thin out the reference to Jerusalem,” an official in the report said.

The prime minister didn’t fully object to a mention of Jerusalem in the framework, but was much firmer in the meeting with his Israeli colleagues.

Kerry was in Israel and the West Bank last week, and could potentially return to the region during the trip he’ll make next week to Paris and Kuwait City.