US looks for Israeli commitment to freeze settlement construction for one year
U.S. envoy to Middle East George Mitchell has asked Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a "deposit" - a commitment of a one-year freeze on construction activities of West Bank settlements. According to a report, published Thursday in Haaretz newspaper, it is said Mitchell raised the issue during his last week's meetings with Netanyahu and Barak.
According to the report, the American official claimed that Arab countries will not make gestures toward normalization with Israel without a guarantee to halt the construction. Mitchell is quoted as saying that an Israeli announcement regarding the freeze would facilitate concessions from the Arab states.
The newspaper said that so far Israel has agreed to suspend building for six months, at most.