Netanyahu calls for `restraint` amid claims of deal with US

PM Benjamin Netanyahu asked his ministers to exercise "restraint" amid a media report claiming that he had agreed to a deal from the US Prez in exchange for keeping the freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

Last Updated: Oct 04, 2010, 21:39 PM IST

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu on Monday asked him ministers to exercise "restraint"
amid a media report claiming that he had agreed to a deal from
the US President in exchange for keeping the freeze on West
Bank settlement construction to keep the peace talks on track.

"We are in the midst of sensitive diplomatic contacts
with the US administration in order to find a solution that
will allow the continuation of the talks. Now is not the time
for issuing statements," the Israeli prime minister told the
cabinet on Monday.

Emphasising that Israel has an interest in pushing the
peace process forward, Netanyahu urged his ministers to
exercise "restraint" in commenting on the sensitive deal
offered by the US in which the Jewish state is required to
limit West Bank settlement building for 60 days in return for
certain promises from Washington.

"We have no interest in causing an uproar. Neither do
I have the possibility of denying the baseless media report,"
Netanyahu said in an apparent reference to an Arabic media
report claiming that he has agreed to a US offer to extend
freeze on settlement activities by two months.

London-based Arabic daily, Asharq al-Awsat`s report
came amid recent claims that US President Barack Obama had
offered the Israeli leader an incentive package in exchange
for keeping settlement construction at bay, a move which could
quell Palestinian concerns over settlement building and
consequently bring them back to the negotiations table.

"Efforts, mainly discrete ones, are made and we are
expected to conduct ourselves in a restrained, discrete
manner. If a decision will be made it would be brought before
appropriate governmental bodies," Netanyahu underlined.

Israel was "interested in achieving peace," he said,
adding that it was a "vital interest of the state of Israel."

Asharq al-Awsat quoted Israeli sources as saying that
Netanyahu expressed his preliminary approval to extend
Israel`s moratorium on settlement building, conditioning such
a move on a list of US assurances, which included a continued
Israeli army presence in the Jordan Valley and continued
political and military support by Washington.

The American incentives, reportedly said to have
conveyed in a letter by Obama, but denied by his office,
included a series of guarantees to prevent the smuggling of
weapons and missiles into a Palestinian state, a lengthy
period of interim security arrangements in the Jordan Valley
and a comprehensive regional defence pact for protection from
Iran to follow the establishment of the Palestinian state.

PTI