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Israeli officials say U.S. gave written proposal for resumed peace talks

JERUSALEM — The United States has given Israel a written guarantee that it won't pressure the Jewish state for additional settlement freezes if it accepts a limited 90-day construction moratorium to revive Mideast peace talks, a top Israeli official said Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked for the assurances in writing in part to appease some members of his Cabinet who oppose the deal.

Netanyahu returned from meetings with U.S. officials last week with an American incentive package designed to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that stalled in late September after Israel resumed settlement construction in the West Bank.

The United States has proposed that Israel cease settlement building for 90 days in return for a fleet of next-generation stealth fighter planes and U.S. pledges to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

The proposal does not include a freeze on building in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians envision their future capital.

"A commitment not to ask an additional freeze after 90 days was written by the Americans," national security adviser Uzi Arad said Saturday afternoon in an interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV.

It was the first time the Israelis have said a written commitment was made. The United States has not confirmed that.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Friday night that the United States would be prepared "to put certain understandings in writing," if needed. But the United States issued no immediate comment on Saturday's statements.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu will convene a special meeting of ministers and parliamentarians of his Likud party today to discuss the deal.

U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in late September, just weeks after they were launched, following the expiration of a 10-month Israeli slowdown on settlement construction.

Israeli officials say U.S. gave written proposal for resumed peace talks 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 8:47pm]
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