For New Settlement Freeze, U.S. Might Have to Sweeten the Deal

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Description: * "Accept the legitimacy" of Israel's security needs as defined by the [Benjamin Netanyahu] government - understood as referring to Netanyahu's demand for a long-term Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern West Bank;For one thing, it's not only up to Netanyahu. He needs the approval of a settlement freeze extension from his 29-member Cabinet or at least his 15-member Security Cabinet, and he doesn't have enough votes yet in those bodies.The U.S. offer followed intensive negotiations in Washington between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and an American team led by veteran Middle East adviser Dennis Ross. The idea was to affirm the U.S. commitments in a presidential letter to Netanyahu to persuade him and pro-settlement members of his government to go along with a new temporary freeze - and in so doing keep alive the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks launched in early September. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to quit the talks if the freeze is not extended.
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