US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday for bringing forward a proposal to extend the West Bank building moratorium by 90 days in return for a list of incentives from the US, including a squadron of Joint-Strike Fighters.

"This is a very promising development and a serious effort by Prime Minister Netanyahu," Clinton was quoted as saying by AFP.

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"We are in very close touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, working intensively to create the conditions for the resumption of the negotiations," Clinton added.

"The status quo is unacceptable so we're going to continue doing everything we possibly can" to restart negotiations, AFP quoted the secretary of state as saying.



Whether the prime minister retains the support of his own party in implementing the renewed building freeze, remains to be seen.

Likud Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin criticized Netanyahu's later on Monday regarding his about-face on extending the West Bank building moratorium.

"There is a need to take in the moves from the past few days and if they [the US and Netanyahu] did not take them into account, that is something strange to me. Someone must provide some explanations," said Begin.

The US proposal of incentives in exchange for resuming peace negotiations entails several conditions, one of which is that Israel must announce a moratorium on settlement construction in Judea and Samaria for three months. This will include construction that began after the September 26 end date of the initial moratorium. The US has agreed that the building freeze will not apply to east Jerusalem and that no further extension will be demanded.

By a margin of one, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to pass his proposal for a 90-day settlement freeze when he brings the matter before the 15-member security cabinet.

US President Barack Obama on Sunday said the proposed freeze was a “very constructive step” that he hoped would lead to serious peace negotiations soon.

“I think it’s a signal that he [Netanyahu] is serious,” Obama said.

Tovah Lazaroff and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.   

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