Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday that construction in Judea and Samaria is not an obstacle to peace and blamed the Palestinian Authority (PA) for stalling peace efforts.
“Settlements – I think and I say again – settlements are not an obstacle to achieve peace,” he said. “We know that even before 1967, before we established even one settlement, the [situation was one of] bloodshed, terror, and friction.”
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Lieberman spoke in New York after meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He was accompanied by deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon and Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Gabriella Shalev.
“It is clear that the PA is using the question of construction in Judea and Samaria as an excuse to avoid negotiations,” Lieberman said. “Each side has different opinions and we should start discussions without any pre-conditions,” he added.
Earlier in the week, Lieberman met with Secretary of State Hilllary Clinton who repeated U.S. demands to cease construction in Judea and Samaria as a pre-condition for negotiations with the PA. Lieberman said Israel would continue building for natural increase.
“We have many understandings with the Americans,” Lieberman said at the U.N. “We have one disagreement, and I think that even in this point we can formulate understandings,” he added regarding the construction question.
“There is currently a new chance to open a dialogue with the PA,” Lieberman claimed. “We are ready for direct negotiations immediately.”