Men building 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Prime Minister's
Office issued a statement on Thursday in response to newspaper claims
that the Obama administration wants Israel to expand the 10-month
moratorium on West Bank settlement construction for another three
months, saying that "we won't comment on the content of negotiations."
Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's position regarding the time period
allotted for the West Bank building moratorium is well known, and has
not changed," the statement continued.
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The statements came as a response to London-based paper A-sharq al-Awsat's claims that Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to the US suggestion of expanding the settlement freeze.
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.