JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is "in the midst of sensitive diplomatic contacts with the U.S. administration" in the effort to continue peace talks with the Palestinians.
In a statement Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu called the direct peace negotiations begun one month ago "a vital interest for the State of Israel." He urged his ministers to "be patient, act responsibly, calmly and — above all — quietly."
"Now is not the time for issuing statements. We have no interest in causing an uproar," the Israeli leader said. "Neither do I have the possibility of denying the baseless media report. But I do have an interest in responding calmly and responsibly in order to advance the diplomatic process. We will quietly consider the situation and the complex reality away from the spotlights."
The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Committee on Oct. 1 voted to halt negotiations with Israel unless it reinstates a construction moratorium in settlements. The Arab League is set to meet Friday on the issue.
Meanwhile, the London-based Arabic language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper cited Israeli officials Monday in its report saying that Netanyahu has agreed to extend the building freeze by 60 days in return for an incentive package from the Obama administration.
At least half of Netanyahu’s 30-member Cabinet opposes reinstating the construction freeze, according to a poll in the daily Yediot Achronot.