Mon, Oct 04, 2010 | Jpost | a-Sharq al-Awsat
Netanyahu Agrees to Two-Month Freeze Extension
According to a report by the London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a two-month extension of the freeze on settlement construction on the condition that it would be the last such moratorium.
The report went on to say that Netanyahu also called for a US guarantee that the IDF could maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley as part of a final peace deal with the Palestinians. [JPost, Oct 04, 2010]
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Netanyahu said “we are in the midst of sensitive diplomatic contacts with the US administration in order to find a solution that will allow the continuation of the talks. Now is not the time for issuing statements.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged restraint on a deal offered by the US in which Israel would limit West Bank settlement building for 60 days in return for certain US promises.
“We have no interest in causing an uproar. Neither do I have the possibility of denying the baseless media report … I do have an interest in responding calmly and responsibly in order to advance the diplomatic process. We will quietly consider the situation and the complex reality away from the spotlights,” Netanyahu said.
According to Netanyahu, 15 ministers oppose the extension on settlement building, eight are in favor of it, and ten are undecided. In the event of a tie between those in favor and those opposed to the extension, Netanyahu will make the final decision, the report stated. [JPost, Oct 04, 2010]
Yesterday, key U.S. Mideast allies Egypt and Jordan backed the Palestinian refusal to negotiate with Israel as long as it continues to build West Bank settlements, but they urged more efforts to salvage peace talks mediated by Washington.
“We understand the Palestinian position which calls for setting the appropriate environment and circumstances for negotiations to take place and continue,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said after Mubarak met Mitchell. “The current conditions are not favorable.”
In Jordan, Abdullah met separately with Mitchell and Abbas and he said Israel’s refusal to stop settlements undermines peacemaking. But he stopped short of calling on the Palestinians to end negotiations.
Abbas told reporters in Jordan he will continue contacts with the Obama administration to press Israel on settlements.
“Certainly, we will not cut our relations with the Americans and we will continue our contacts to ensure that settlements stop in order for (direct) talks to resume,” Abbas said. [Aawsat, Oct 04, 2010]