Settlement spat tops US-Israel dialogue

 The former US senator said he and Netanyahu made “good progress” in their nearly three-hour meeting that was due to focus on the thorny issue of settlements.

“We look forward to continuing our discussions to reach a point that we can all move forward to reach a comprehensive peace,” he told reporters.

Washington has repeatedly demanded that Israel halt all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land and Netanyahu’s refusal to do so has raised tensions between the two allies to levels not seen in years.

Netanyahu said the two sides were making progress “toward achieving the understanding that will enable us to continue and complete the peace process established between us and Palestinian neighbours and the countries in the entire region.”

Israeli media reports over the past several days have said that the sides are close to reaching a compromise that would see Israel agree to a temporary settlement freeze, but continue construction projects already underway.

Tuesday’s meeting is part of Mitchell’s whistlestop tour in which he has held talks with leaders of Syria, Egypt and the Palestinians in four days.

Throughout the tourney the former US senator has said repeatedly that Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states must all take steps that may be difficult and controversial towards a comprehensive peace deal.

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