The Obama administration repeated its demands for Israel to halt settlements construction activities before it holds new talks in Paris next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his plans for peace with the Palestinians. According to AFP, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the demands following talks with her Israeli peer Avigdor Lieberman.
"We want to see a stop to the settlements," Clinton told reporters as she stood next to Lieberman. "We think that is an important and essential part of pursuing the efforts leading to a comprehensive agreement and the creation of a Palestinian next to an Israeli Jewish state that is secure in its borders and future," she added.
Lieberman rejected this demand. Israel did not have "any intention to change the demographic balance" of the West Bank, said Lieberman. "But we think that as in any place, babies are born, people get married, some pass away and we cannot accept this vision about an absolutely complete freezing of settlements," said Lieberman.
"I think that we must keep the natural growth," he conveyed. "This approach is very clear and also we had some understandings with the previous administration (of George W. Bush) and we try to keep this direction," he said.
Clinton dismissed his remarks. "In looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements," she said.