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Newspaper Report: Obama Offered to Press ‘Abbas for Direct Talks in Return for 4-Month Building Freeze

An Israeli daily is reporting that President Barack Obama has offered to press Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud ‘Abbas to enter direct instead of indirect talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if Netanyahu agrees to a 4-month freeze on building in all parts of Jerusalem. According to the newspaper Haaretz, the 4-month time frame corresponds to the amount of time the Arab League is allotting for a show of success in the indirect talks proposed by the U.S. and for awhile, accepted by the Palestinians. The report also suggests that if Prime Minister Netanyahu accepts the Obama proposal, it’s likely that the freeze will happen “silently” rather than following a formal announcement that officials feel could scuttle the plan because of popular reaction. A series of measures relating to Jerusalem that President Obama allegedly demanded of Netanyahu have previously been reported. They include the building freeze; the opening of a Palestinian business affairs office in east Jerusalem; and an end to the razing of illegally-built Palestinian homes.