Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt did not request settlement freeze, Prime Minister’s Office says

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Prime Minister’s Office in Israel has denied Israeli media reports that Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s adviser on international relations, asked for a settlement freeze during meetings in Israel.

“The reports concerning Mr. Greenblatt’s visit to Israel and any purported U.S. demands of Israel in talks regarding the settlements are false,” read a statement issued Thursday from the office, The Times of Israel reported.

The statement came in the wake of interviews with coalition lawmakers from the Likud and Jewish Home parties that such a freeze would cause a government crisis.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday, citing an Israeli source familiar with the talks, that during his visit last week, Greenblatt made it clear that the Trump administration wants Israel to place substantial restrictions on construction in the settlements.

According to the report, Greenblatt said that the U.S. would accept Israeli construction in Jewish neighbourhoods in eastern Jerusalem and construction in agreed-upon settlement blocs, but with an annual quota.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, arrived in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the week to continue the discussions with Greenblatt.

Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday before he left China that “significant progress” had been made in the talks in Washington but gave no further information.

Greenblatt during his visit also met with Palestinian officials and residents of a refugee camp.

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