Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned home on Thursday, a day later than originally planned due to a flurry of last-minute meetings between his representatives and those of US President Barack Obama.
The meetings, which were aimed at easing tension between the two governments, were described as a failure after the Americans demanded far-reaching gestures and concessions by Israel to make up for what they saw as the insult of continued Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem.
According to Israeli media, the US hoped to publish a document outlining Israel's new commitments, including:
- A permanent Jewish building freeze in Judea and Samaria (the current 10-month freeze is scheduled to expire in late September);
- A significant reduction in Jewish construction on the eastern side of Jerusalem;
- The release of hundreds more jailed terrorists affiliated with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas; and
- A commitment to reach a final status peace deal resulting in the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state within two years.
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said they would have to present the new terms to the Israeli cabinet before they could officially respond.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians continued to play off Washington's impatience with Israel, insisting they would not join US-brokered proximity peace talks until Israel agreed to the new US-imposed terms and more. The Palestinian Authority wants Israel to also publicly cancel the new Jerusalem building projects that led to the current tension with the US.
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