Israeli cabinet to consider US settlement proposal

The Palestinians expressed strong reservations about the proposal because the 90-day moratorium on new construction would apply only to the West Bank, not east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. Still, they did not reject it outright, saying they would consult among themselves and with Arab leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the cabinet meeting that details of the proposed deal were still being finalised by Israeli and the US teams. He said when the proposal was complete, he would bring it before an inner cabinet of decision-makers.

“Every proposal will consider the security needs of the state of Israel, both immediate needs and threats in the coming decade,” he said.

Peace talks ground to a halt, just three weeks after they began at the White House, after Israel resisted the US and Palestinian pressure to extend a 10-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank that expired on September 26.

The Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table if construction resumed on land they want for a future state and gave the US until later this month to come up with a formula to salvage the talks.

The diplomatic climate soured even further last week after Israel pressed ahead with plans to build 1,300 apartments in east Jerusalem.

Last week, Netanyahu met with US officials in an effort to break the impasse and held a seven-hour meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After he returned, an Israeli official disclosed that in exchange for a reinstated moratorium, the White House would ask Congress to supply Israel with 20 stealth fighter jets worth $ 3 billion.

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