The Israelis are prepared to compromise on an issue that has been threatening to torpedo the Middle East peace talks, according to a senior Israeli official.
A French news agency is reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to do a deal on extending a moratorium on the building of Israeli settlements in the West bank.
The Palestinian leader said he would withdraw from the US sponsored talks if construction restarted when the current freeze expires on Sunday.
Earlier, the US president Barack Obama told the United Nations: “Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended.”
Israel’s seat at the United Nations was empty because it was a Jewish holiday. But the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was there to hear Obama’s call for a Palestinian state.
“This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations; an independent state of Palestine living in peace with Israel,” Obama said.
But tensions in parts of East Jerusalem have been boiling over this week ever since a Palestinian man was shot dead by an Israeli on Wednesday. Palestinian officials said the killing had undermined the peace efforts.