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Barak: U.S., Israel not ‘stuck’ on settlements

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the United States and Israel are not "stuck" on the issue of settlements.

"We weren’t stuck on the subject of the settlements and we’re not stuck now," Barak said Tuesday after a four-hour meeting with U.S. special envoy to the MIddle East George Mitchell in New York, according to media reports. "We’re continuing the dialogue in order to reach understandings."

Media reports before the meeting said that Israel was prepared to freeze settlement building for a temporary period of up to six months. Barak after the meeting did not offer any additional details on that issue.

A joint statement said settlements had been on the agenda at the meeting.

"Their discussions covered a wide range of measures needed to create a climate conducive to peace," said the statement issued by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department. "These included measures on security and incitement by the Palestinians; steps by Arab states toward normalization with Israel; and, from Israel, actions on access and movement in the West Bank and on settlement activity. The discussions were constructive and will continue soon."

Barak also said that Israel was "weighing any positive contribution we can make to promote the peace efforts while taking into consideration our security interests."

The two men also agreed to set up a meeting between Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 
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