Obama: Proposed 3-month settlement freeze is 'constructive'

PM tells cabinet plan still being formulated by both sides; Ya'alon calls US offer "honey trap that will plunge us into another crisis."

November 14, 2010 22:28
2 minute read.
Netanyahu and Obama meet at the White House

Obama Netanyahu 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

US President Barack Obama on Sunday called the proposed 90-day settlement freeze in the West Bank presented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his cabinet as a "very constructive step" that he hopes will lead to serious peace negotiations soon.

"I think it's a signal that he's serious," Obama said in reference to Netanyahu.

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The president spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One as he was landing in Washington after a 10-day trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu said that that the proposal put forward by the US for a 90-day settlement freeze in exchange for UN support and military aid was not final.

"This proposal was raised during my talks with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It is still not final; it is still being formulated by Israeli and the American teams."

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said "if and when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet."

"In any case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel's security needs, both in the immediate term and vis-à-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade," Netanyahu explained.

Also on Sunday, Palestinian Authority officials claimed that they were “surprised” to hear about the latest US proposal for a three-month settlement freeze in return for a package of incentives to Israel.

Some officials in Ramallah did not hide their disappointment with the “sudden change” in US policy which, they explained, puts the PA in a difficult situation. However, they stopped short of rejecting the US offer in public.

The officials expressed strong reservations about the US proposal, mainly because it does not include east Jerusalem and limits the freeze to three months only.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this article.

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