The State Department yesterday denied that a deal on settlements allowing the completion of 2,500 units in the West Bank had been reached, but the Jerusalem Post reports today that a compromise that would allow both sides to claim "victory" is in the works, in which Israel would agree to a freeze of a few months while also being allowed to complete an unspecified number of units already under construction. The story by Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman goes on to talk about what’s next after such a deal is reached:
Once agreement is reached on the settlement issue, and the US gets some gestures from the Arab world, the next step would possibly be an event – likely an international conference – where a "to do" list would be presented regarding what needed to be done to move the diplomatic process forward.
This "to do" list, according to one well-placed source, was shaping up as a revamped edition of the road map, with sequential phases and a stronger regional component, meaning that the Arab states would be asked to become involved in the normalization of ties in the early stages, rather than at the end, of the process.
In addition, any new road map would have take into consideration – and deal with in detail – something that did not exist when the original road map was launched in 2003: Hamas control of the Gaza Strip.
Diplomatic sources said that the US, interested in shoring up its relations with Russia, is now much more amenable than in the past to the idea of an international conference in Moscow to launch the new initiative.