Lieberman: Obama-Netanyahu Meeting Went Better Than You Think

Foreign minister: U.S., Israel see eye-to-eye on Palestinian issue; settlements no obstacle to peace.

Reuters
Ora Coren
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Reuters
Ora Coren

This week's White House summit meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was more positive than what has been portrayed by the news media, Israel's top diplomat said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that Israel and the United States see eye-to-eye on a final resolution to the Palestinian issue, and that "the argument is about how to get there."

In an appearance before industrialists in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister said Washington and Jerusalem agree on the overall strategic assessment of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.

The U.S. and Israel both seek to "halt Iran or deny Iran in attaining non-conventional weapons, stopping a dangerous [nuclear] plan which threatens the entire world, and identifying Iran as the main problem, as an agent of instability in the Middle East, irrespective of the nuclear issue," Lieberman said. The foreign minister added that Tehran provides support to terrorist organizations.

The foreign minister said that both Israel and the U.S. share the view that Israel ought to maintain its qualitative edge that prevents its neighbors in the region from closing the gap in military technology.

"On the Palestinian issue, there is agreement as to the final destination," Lieberman said. "Everyone wants to see security, economic prosperity, and stability. Perhaps there is a tactical disagreement as to what is the best way to attain these goals. So there is much more in common [with the U.S.] and much more positive points. The meeting was much more positive than what one is led to believe."

Lieberman denied the West Bank settlements obstruct a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

"I always hear people trying to portray Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace ... I ask, what was before 1967 when there wasn't a single Jewish settlement ... but there was no peace either," he told reporters in Tel Aviv.

Lieberman said he was ready to renew peace negotiations with the Palestinians on condition that they withdraw their complaint to the International Criminal Court in The Hague and that they annul the law which punishes by death any Palestinian who sells West Bank land to Jews.

"I would suggest to the Palestinian Authority that it rectify these things quickly and I hope that [these issues] are squared away so that we can continue the dialogue," Lieberman said.

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