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Deadline extended in bid to keep Israel-Palestinian talks alive

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"Things are really stuck right now. It seems the US is trying to devise an attractive enough set of assurances to give Netanyahu cover at home without undermining Palestinian confidence in the negotiating process, which is a tricky balancing act,'' said Scott Lasensky, a fellow at the US Institute for Peace, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.


Netanyahu avoided being specific about what steps will be taken from the Israeli side on Monday. "We are at the height of sensitive talks with the American administration," he told his cabinet. Israel is "calmly considering the picture far from [the] spotlight and will act calmly."

But the contours of a possible compromise, at least from an Israeli perspective, were outlined in press reports in the past few days. Those indicate that Netanyahu is mulling a temporary two-month settlement freeze in exchange for several major promises from Obama.

The London-based Arab-language daily Asharq Alawsat reported on Monday that Netanyahu had given an agreement in principle to the idea of extending a settlement moratorium in return for US guarantees, which appeared to lend credence to a report at the end of last week from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank that supports strong US-Israel ties.

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