Israel plays down U.S. settlement freeze call
US President Barack Obama is objecting any Israeli settlement expansion as he meets with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Obama "made it clear", when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited at the White House earlier this month that he wants "no natural growth exceptions" to his call for a settlement freeze.
However, Israeli sources Thursday played down the stern American call. "In essence, there is nothing new in the comments by the secretary of state," a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying by AFP regarding Clinton's comments. "Hillary Clinton did nothing but again express the differences that appeared during May 18 meeting in Washington between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," the official added.