Lieberman: Kerry Says Didn't Blame Israel for Crisis in Talks

Foreign minister meets his U.S. counterpart, says Israel wants to continue negotiations but questions Palestinians' motives.

Lieberman and Kerry in Washington - AFP
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speak to the media before meeting privately at the U.S. State Department, April 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday and said that he does not blame Israel for the crisis in talks with the Palestinians, officials in Lieberman's office said.

Kerry said that his comments on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the Senate committee hearing on Tuesday were merely an account of the chain of events and a description of the natural hardships in conducting such a complex negotiation.

Lieberman met with Kerry in Washington on Wednesday and said that Kerry deserves appreciation for his efforts to advance the peace process. "Everyone in Israel knows that you are a true friend. We both want to reach an all-encompassing peace agreement with our neighbors," Lieberman said. Kerry, meanwhile, said that the sides must overcome the current crisis. "We want to see it happen. It's important for both parties," he said.

Lieberman said that Israel is in favor of continuing negotiations and that it had already proved its willingness and ability to reach peace as seen with Egypt and Jordan. The question is, Lieberman said, is whether the Palestinians are coming with a true will to secure a deal and not play the blame game.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Israel's decision to halt its governmental cooperation with the Palestinian Authority is "unfortunate."

"The cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians has provided benefits to both sides," Psaki said, during her daily press briefing.

The ties between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams had not ended, Psaki added, and both sides were continuing to work hard to find a solution to the crisis. She stressed that America "regards it as important that security-related cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians is not affected."

American envoy Martin Indyk will hold a meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams in Jerusalem on Thursday, according to senior Israeli official. It will be the third such meeting in the past five days.

Psaki said that Kerry was "surprised" by the storm aroused by his statements at a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. "He doesn't think that he laid the blame on one side over the other, because both sides took unhelpful actions," she said. "He did not intend to play a blame game."