U.S. President Barack Obama wants Israel to freeze construction in East Jerusalem for four months in exchange for an attempt to renew stalled peace talks with Palestinians, an Israeli newspaper said on Wednesday. Obama administration hopes such a deal could persuade Palestinians to renew direct negotiations rather than indirect proximity talks, the Haaretz daily said, quoting an unnamed Israeli political source.
Palestinians have demanded a total halt to settlement building before talks with Israel may resume.
Obama has also called on Israel to stop building in East Jerusalem, and was said to have pressed Netanyahu in talks held in Washington last week to introduce unspecified goodwill gestures to help persuade Palestinians to renew negotiations.
The Haaretz newspaper said a consensus among ministers, who last met on Sunday, was that Israel would avoid declaring an outright building freeze in Jerusalem, and seek instead to achieve a "quiet understanding" on the issue.