US Envoy Meets Israeli PM Again to Discuss Settlements

A U.S. envoy has ended a second day of talks with Israel’s prime minister without securing an Israeli agreement to freeze settlement building in areas the Palestinians want for a state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office described his meeting with U.S. envoy George Mitchell in Jerusalem Wednesday as “good.” It says the two plan to meet again on Friday, after Mitchell returns from visits to Arab states.

The U.S. and Palestinian governments have been pressing Israel to stop all building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to enable Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to restart.

Mr. Netanyahu has ruled out a total freeze, saying Israel may agree only to reduce construction in West Bank settlements for a limited period. Israel also wants the Palestinians and Arab states to make gestures to help revive the peace process.

Mitchell has been in the region since Saturday on a mission to resolve the settlement dispute. On Tuesday, he had a first round talks with Mr. Netanyahu and traveled to Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell said Tuesday he hopes to bring his current phase of talks with the parties to a “positive conclusion” in the coming weeks. He is trying to arrange a meeting between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.

It would be the first encounter between the two leaders since Mr. Netanyahu took office in March.

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. It says construction must continue in the occupied territories to accommodate population growth. 

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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