Arab States Offer Relations, Flyovers, Travel
If Israel halts settlements, U.S. official says
Here’s another carrot to push Israel toward a settlement freeze: Several Arab states are willing to give Israeli airliners flyover rights, open low-level diplomatic offices in Israel, and end travel restrictions on Israeli cititzens in exchange for halting all settlement construction, according to a report in today’s Washington Times. An unnamed U.S. official told reporter Eli Lake that the offer was conveyed informally to Middle East envoy George Mitchell, although Saudi Arabia has apparently refused to consent to the deal without a viable peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. And while Netanyahu has agreed to a six-to-nine-month settlement freeze, Lake reports that Israeli officials say that Israel still plans to construct more than 2,500 new housing units in the occupied territories.