If Netanyahu did accept a temporary settlements freeze for a period of six or nine months, imposing limits on new construction stricter than those accepted by Ariel Sharon, would the Obama Administration make the reciprocal concession to Israel, that at the end of this period, the U.S. would accept "natural growth" at levels to which it has heretofore objected?? This is one of the "new" issues that is impeding progress on settlements between the two countries, according to well-informed sources, an issue the Israelis call the "exit strategy".

If the U.S. demands on Israel would be unabated the "Morning After" a temporary freeze expired, what is the meaning of "temporary"? Conversely, If the U.S. did agree to relax the standard to which it is holding Israel at the end of X months, how would it explain this to the Arab side??

Officials told the New York Times that the two countries "are narrowing the gap on a deal to freeze construction of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank for a period of time, possibly six months," but George Mitchell told the Times that "the deal would probably not be one that 'everyone is going to stand up and cheer about.'"

As I previously reported, the Obama team is divided on how strict a settlements deal needs to be, with the Left, typified by Mara Rudman, taking an "absolutist" approach, and the Center willing to entertain options somewhere near the zone of the achievable in israel.