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US "Prepared" to Offer Israel Written Understandings - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a joint press conference with Israeli President Shimon Peres (unseen) in Jerusalem on September 15, 2010. (AFP)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a joint press conference with Israeli President Shimon Peres (unseen) in Jerusalem on September 15, 2010. (AFP)

WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States said Friday it was ready to provide “understandings in writing” after Israel requested written guarantees on incentives for a new freeze on West Bank settlements.

In talks last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put together a package of incentives to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a fresh 90-day moratorium on new settlement building in a bid to get stalled peace talks with the Palestinians back on track.

But Netanyahu has baulked at bringing the deal to his security cabinet until he receives the pledges in writing.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that “if there’s a need to put certain understandings in writing, we will be prepared to do that.”

It was the first time State Department officials, who have kept mum about the details of the ongoing Israeli-US discussions, have said President Barack Obama’s administration is willing to put something in writing.

The US package of incentives is aimed at cajoling the Jewish state into imposing a new moratorium, opening the way for a return to the negotiating table.

Direct peace talks resumed on September 2 but collapsed three weeks later with the expiry of a 10-month Israeli ban on settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has since refused to rejoin the talks until a new moratorium is imposed.

David Hale, assistant to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, briefed Abbas on details of the plan at a meeting earlier this week in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Ahead of the Abbas-Hale meeting, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said that for talks to resume, Israel would have to stop construction in all of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their promised state.

Crowley said Hale was still in region, where he is due to meet Friday and Saturday with his counterparts from Jordan and Egypt, which co-sponsored the launch of peace talks in Washington in September.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks to students at the Technion, a technology school in Haifa, Northern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 18. 2010.  (AP)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks to students at the Technion, a technology school in Haifa, Northern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 18. 2010. (AP)

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas at Palestinian stone throwers during clashes following a weekly demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, November 19, 2010. (AFP)

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas at Palestinian stone throwers during clashes following a weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, November 19, 2010. (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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