Washington's envoy to the Middle East met with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning, in another bid to hammer out a compromise on the issue of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, DPA reported.
George Mitchell's talks in Jerusalem come amid reports that Netanyahu rejected an offer from Washington to give him a "presidential letter" of assurances in exchange for extending by two months a partial freeze on the construction, which expired Sunday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to walk out of direct Middle East peace talks, relaunched in early September, if the moratorium is not extended.
Mitchell was slated to hold another meeting with Abbas in Ramallah at noon on Friday. Washington is trying to reach a compromise on the issue before an Arab League committee meeting scheduled for Monday, at which the bloc will decide whether to extend its support for the direct negotiations.
The United States State Department denied the existence of the letter of guarantees, with spokesman PJ Crowley saying Thursday that "there was no letter to the prime minister."
But the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, citing senior US officials, reported that Obama had sent Netanyahu a letter to arrange for the future sale to Israel of advanced missile systems and another squadron of F-35 fighter planes.
It said Obama additionally promised to veto any Palestinian or Arab resolution before the United Nations Security Council for a one- year period, while guaranteeing US commitment to other Israeli security needs too.
Washington reportedly also said it would not again call on Israel to extend the freeze beyond the 60 days it was requesting.
Israeli newspapers on Friday reported of a similar document. The biggest-selling Yediot Ahronot daily said it also expressed US support for leaving Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley for an unlimited period.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also slated to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials, after arriving in the region on Thursday to back the US efforts.