Israel keeping mum on settlement freeze options
Israeli officials were tightlipped Sunday regarding a possible extension to a 10-month freeze on construction in Israeli West Bank settlements, which is due to expire at midnight local time (2200 GMT), dpa reported.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to comment on the issue, and the premier himself instructed ministers and deputy ministers not to talk to the media on the matter.
Israel has come under intense pressure to extend the freeze, lest President Mahmoud Abbas carry out his threat to walk out of recently-launched direct peace talks if the Israelis resume building in settlements.
Netanyahu met Saturday night with his top aides to discuss the freeze, and was in contact with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who met recently in Washington with US officials.
According to Israel Radio, administration officials have given both Israel and the Palestinians ideas on how to resolve the impasse.
Although the Israeli cabinet did not meet Sunday, because of the Jewish festival of Tabernacles, Barak was quoted in the Israeli media as urging ministers to support prolonging the freeze.