An official in Jerusalem said the U.S. administration is demanding that Israel freeze construction in East Jerusalem, including Jewish neighborhoods such as Neveh Yaakov, French Hill and of course Ramat Shlomo, which sparked the recent tensions between Israel and the United States.
The freeze would last four months, the time frame the Arab League has authorized for indirect talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
In a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the issue of Jerusalem is one that will be resolved in the final-status talks between Israel and the PA.
The U.S. administration seeks to take advantage of the recent tensions with Israel to alter the preconditions for starting talks between Israel and the PA – replacing proximity talks with Israel’s preference for direct talks.
Abbas was consistent in his refusal to hold direct talks with Israel as long as it failed to completely freeze settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.
The Americans say that if Netanyahu agrees to freeze construction for four months, direct talks will be possible between the two sides in that period.
In discussions of the forum of seven senior cabinet ministers, the general view is that it will be impossible to publicly announce a freeze of construction in East Jerusalem. However, one possibility is that it will be possible to reach a tacit agreement with the U.S. administration on construction in East Jerusalem.