"I'm not making any news here," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told a press conference. "It is a state for the Jewish people. It is a state for other citizens of other faiths as well."
Netanyahu said Monday that Israel would agree to extend a freeze in West Bank settlement construction if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
"What Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday is, in essence a core demand of the Israeli government, which we support," Crowley said. "The recognition that Israel is a part of the region – acceptance by the region of the existence of the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people – is what they want to see through this negotiation."
Crowley stressed that the US was encouraging the continuation of direct talks. "This is not a one-way street. It is a two-way street. The prime minister is offering something and asking for something. It is perfectly within the rights of the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas to say there's something I need and there's something I'm willing to give," he said.
"We would hope that the Palestinians would do the same thing and, through this ongoing dialogue, we'll gain the commitment on both sides to continue and to resume in these negotiations."
Political message to Finance Ministry?
Meanwhile, Israel plans to request next week that the US extend its $3 billion security package for another few years, but the state is also preparing for the possibility that the latter will cut the package by a billion, Ynet has learned.
Next week officials from the State Department are scheduled to arrive in Israel in order to receive a briefing on its economic standing and reforms.
Over the past few years, due to Israel's relatively buoyant economy, the state has not generally had to make use of US security in order to raise funds, but the Finance Ministry prefers to continue receiving it.
"As of now, the Americans have not told us they plan to cut the security package," one ministry official told Ynet. But if they do, many officials say, the cut will most likely not derive from strain on the US economy.
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