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Report: Obama trades weapons for talks

Sept. 29, 2010 3:11 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 30, 2010 6:55 P.M.)
TEL AVIV (Ma'an) -- US President Barack Obama sent a letter of guarantees to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in bid to save direct peace talks from collapse, Israel's Hebrew language daily Maariv reported on Wednesday.

The guarantees were reportedly in exchange for an immediate halt to settlement construction, and dealt with issues around Israeli security negotiated between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and head of the Israeli negotiating team Isaac Molcho during their New York and Washington visits over the past weeks.

According to the report, Obama committed the US administration to providing Israel with upgraded weapons if a final solution to the conflict is reached.

The US would also veto any attempt by Arab nations to present the Palestinian issue to the UN Security Council for one year, and prevent Palestinian negotiators from setting settlements as the central condition to a peace agreement, the report said.

The offer, however, had not been accepted by Netanyahu, who it said was reluctant to act swiftly. Maariv said Netanyahu was considering the offer, and may accept it, giving a two-month extension on the partial moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank.

Several last-minute meetings were held in the US in a bid to stay talks from derailing over the settlement issue, as President Mahmoud Abbas vowed to withdraw from negotiations if the freeze was not prolonged.

Abbas said he would discuss talks at an Arab League meeting on 4 October, while members of the Palestinian negotiation team have said that a stance would be announced on 30 September.

Israel's 10-month partial moratorium on settlement construction came to an end on Sunday at midnight, with settlement councils quick to restart construction.

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