John Lyons, Middle East correspondent
ISRAEL is believed to be considering a compromise deal on Jewish settlements in the West Bank but will refuse to back down over Jerusalem, which Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in London yesterday for talks with US special envoy George Mitchell and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Detailed talks between Israeli and US officials have continued since President Barack Obama and Mr Netanyahu met in May.
Although Israel publicly refuses to stop activity in its settlements, arguing "natural growth" needs to continue, Israeli officials say privately they would like to make some compromise to the US, which is trying to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. It is believed this could involve a freeze for up to a year on all settlement activity.
Mr Netanyahu surprised many this week when he said it was possible he could be sitting down for renewed talks next month with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Israel, the US and others are interested in resuming direct talks with the Palestinians," he told his cabinet meeting on Sunday.
"This can possibly be done in late September, but will first require reaching understandings with the Americans and the Palestinian Authority."
He said areas of disagreement between the US and Israel had been reduced.
The US suggested yesterday that the resumption of peace talks was getting closer. Israel's preparedness to compromise follows the US bringing forward its deadline for Iran to commit to allowing international inspectors into its nuclear facilities.
Mr Obama had said he wanted this commitment by "the end of the year" but US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has said since that the deadline was the end of next month.
Israel has made clear to US officials that although it is prepared to address the Palestinian issue, the problem of Iran is more urgent. Read more here ...
Source: The Australian