Thawing the Freeze

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

THAWING THE FREEZE

Israel's new ambassador to the United States is confident of working out a compromise on Israeli settlements on the West Bank that is acceptable to President Obama, who has called for a freeze on the construction of Israeli homes on land claimed by Palestinians.

I definitely foresee a situation in which we narrow the gap between the Israeli and American positions, Ambassador Michael Oren told Israel's Army Radio in Jerusalem this week. In my opinion, the gap is becoming smaller and smaller.

Mr. Obama, in a speech in Egypt earlier this month, called on Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank.

The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements, he said. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Mr. Oren, in an interview with Reuters news agency Tuesday, said officials in Jerusalem and Washington have suggested creative proposals to address U.S. concerns and meet contractual obligations in Israel. However, he offered no further details.

This is a country of law, and citizens of the state of Israel have rights under the law, he said. If a person has purchased a house, if a person has taken out a contract for building a house, if a corporation is involved in a construction activity, the Israeli government does not have a right under Israeli law to stop them.

Mr. Oren said Israeli courts would also likely rule against any government attempt to block those contract rights.

ORTEGA'S BLUSTER

Nicaragua's leftist president, Daniel Ortega, is accusing U.S. diplomats of stirring up opposition to his government, while some of his top officials are calling for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan.

Mr. Ortega's outrage at the U.S. Embassy followed Washington's decision last week to cancel $62 million in aid to the government after accusations that Mr. …