On Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior cabinet ministers convened in Jerusalem, officials said, and did not even take up a package of security guarantees being offered by the United States in return for Israel’s extending a freeze on the construction of settlements in the West Bank by 60 days.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, rejected a proposal by the administration that they keep negotiating without an extension, in return for an American endorsement of their position on the borders of a future Palestinian state. Without an extension, the Palestinians insist, the talks are dead.
Few analysts argue that Mr. Obama can broker a peace agreement without horse-trading on issues like this. Ultimately, most believe, he will have to put down his own blueprint for a deal. The question some are asking is whether he is risking too much too soon — and for too little.
“If we can get these 60 days, and get past the midterm elections, we can create a moment of choice for both sides,” said Daniel Levy, a former negotiator who is now at the New America Foundation.
The question of how much the United States is offering, and what it is asking for in return, is being fiercely debated within the White House and the State Department, according to officials.