The Obama administration wants Israel to expand the 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction for another three months, according to London-based paper A-sharq al-Awsat.

The Arabic language paper reported Thursday morning that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to the US suggestion, but that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had yet to respond.

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The report came after hours of discussions at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem between Netanyahu, Abbas, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their respective staffs on Wednesday night. There were indications, specifically from US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, that the sides were not only talking about how to overcome the settlement construction moratorium, but also about core issues such as security, Jerusalem, borders and refugees.

In his comments after the trilateral meeting however, Mitchell refused to shed any light on the nature of the compromise being worked out on the moratorium issue, other than to say the issue was being tackled, and that progress was being made.

Netanyahu’s position on the moratorium ending on September 26, The Jerusalem Post has learned, did not change during Wednesday’s meetings.

In recent days, he has discussed the possibility of building quietly for natural growth in the settlements, in line with the guidelines used for construction under the Olmert and Sharon governments.

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