WASHINGTON – Public confrontation in Washington over settlement issue: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday evening that Israel would not freeze the construction of settlements.
"People are born and people die in Judea and Samaria, and the settlements cannot be completely frozen," Lieberman said during a meeting with Clinton in Washington.
"Our stance is clear. We have understandings with the previous administration on their matter," he added.
Clinton reiterated the stance voiced by President Barack Obama, saying that the United States wanted to see a stop to settlements.
Smiles and clear messages (Photo: Shahar Azran)
The secretary of state stressed in response to Lieberman's claims that there was no written or oral agreement from President Bush's era approved by any American participant. She implied, however, that a compromise could be reached between Israel and the US.
Clinton noted that the process being conducted by special Mideast envoy George Mitchell had only just begun.
"There are a number of critical concerns, many of which overlap in their impact and significance, that will be explored in the coming weeks as Senator Mitchell engages more deeply into the specifics as to where the Israelis and the Palestinians are willing to go together," she said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said earlier Wednesday that "the Americans also want to find a practical and acceptable solution. This debate will take place mostly during the prime minister's meeting with George Mitchell in Paris next week."
Lieberman and Clinton met face-to-face for about half an hour, and were then joined by the Israeli and American delegations for another half-hour meeting defined by both sides as "very good".
The secretary of state noted that Israel had several prime ministers – including Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon – who changed their views over the years. The State Department was later expected to announce the renewal of the strategic dialogue between Israel and the US.
'Iranians deserve to have their voice heard'
She clarified that the US would work to resume the dialogue with the new Iranian government as soon as the doubts surrounding the presidential elections are resolved.
Clinton added that a dialogue with the Iranians was an American interest, as well as the interest of "our friends", including Israel.
In response to the Iranian accusation that the US was interfering in internal Iranian affair, the secretary of state said that "the people of Iran reserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted.
"The outcome of any election should reflect the will of the people and it is for the Iranians to determine how they resolve this internal protest concerning the outcome of the recent election."
Reuters contributed to this report