Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Obama administration drafting letter for Netanyahu

By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post
November 17, 2010; 4:01 PM ET

The Obama administration is drafting a letter detailing understandings recently reached between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to a senior administration official.

The Israeli media was filled with reports Wednesday that talks between the United States and Israel had reached a crisis stage, with the terms of a deal struck between Clinton and Netanyahu during a marathon seven-hour meeting in New York last week still unclear. Under the reported agreement, Israel would freeze settlement growth for 90 days, permitting peace talks with the Palestinians to resume, in exchange for $3 billion worth of jet fighters as well as other incentives.

Clinton declined to comment Wednesday when asked whether she was willing the put the deal into writing. "I can't get into details ... I can only repeat what I've said -- that we are in close touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're working intensively to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations that can lead to a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace," she said.

But a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to speak more freely, said: "We are constructively working through the details, following up on Secretary Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It was always envisioned that there would be a letter detailing our understandings. We are nailing down the specifics."

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