Netanyahu suggests US cautioned Israel against settlement freeze

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

The Obama Administration continues with its public display of calling for Israel to halt “Jewish settlement activity,” but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested on Tuesday that it was Washington that actually convinced him to not impose a second settlement building freeze.

Speaking to foreign journalists in Jerusalem, Netanyahu noted that he was willing and ready to extend the 10-month Jewish building freeze that he unilaterally imposed in November 2009 by an additional three months, as per international demands.

However, Israel pulled out of the proposal at the last minute “because the US said that what would happen is that we’d end up spending a lot of political capital, and on the 91st day, they [the Palestinians] would ask for more,” explained Netanyahu.

It also seemed the freeze was not going to result in a resumption of direct peace talks, since the Palestinians were demanding that it be open-ended and that it include the parts of Jerusalem they want for their future capital, conditions Israel and the US did not agree to.

Nevertheless, the Palestinians have successfully gotten Europe and other power brokers in the international community to lay the blame for the breakdown of the peace process squarely on Netanyahu’s shoulders for refusing to halt “settlement activity.”

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