The Israeli government has approved new housing for a Jewish settlement just inside the West Bank, saying that it regards some settlements in the area as part of the Jewish state. The decision drew immediate condemnation from the PLO.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who curbed Israeli construction in the occupied territories two years ago, has given the go-ahead for about 700 homes at Givat Tal, part of Alfei Menashe settlement, three kilometres inside the West Bank opposite Israel’s narrow waist, Israeli officials said on 26 September.

Israel Radio said on 28 September that Rabin promised left-wing ministers at a cabinet meeting that he would rethink the decision, but for now planning continues. Rabin’s 1992 freeze on new settlement construction helped Israel win $10,000 million in loan guarantees from the US to help finance a wave of Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union.

A senior aide to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat said on 26 September that Rabin’s latest move violates the year-old PLO-Israel interim peace accord providing Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He said the issue would be raised with Israel. However, Arafat and Rabin met on 26 September in an Israeli army camp at the entrance to Gaza for a summit that ended in an unusual display of harmony. Among issues scheduled to be discussed at the summit was a Palestinian demand for elections in the self-rule areas which are planned to go ahead in December.

Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Shimon Peres was to meet Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan at the White House in Washington on 3 October. Israeli newspapers said they may announce the date for the signing of a full peace treaty. The trilateral meeting comes on the anniversary of the first meeting between the two men with US President Clinton as host on 1 October 1993, which established the US-Jordan-Israel Trilateral Committee. It also follows the 25 July Washington accord between Jordan and Israel.