US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
US Secretary of State Hillary ClintonIsrael news photo: (file)

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had high praise for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's willingness to freeze Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria (Yehudah and Shomron) in a news conference held Saturday night in Jerusalem. However, two days after describing the freeze as “unprecedented,” Clinton told reporters in Marrakesh, Morocco, that the freeze “falls short” of U.S. desires.

“This offer falls far short of what our preference would be,” Clinton said Monday, between meetings with Arab foreign ministers to discuss America's policy regarding Israel and the Palestinian Authority. However, she said, “if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements.”

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, also in Morocco, told reporters that “all of us” Arab states are disappointed by what they view as insufficient U.S. pressure on Israel to cease all construction east of the 1949 armistice line, including in eastern Jerusalem.

Israel “can get away with anything,” Moussa claimed. He expressed pessimism over American efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the PA, saying, “Failure is in the atmosphere all over.”

PA leaders criticized Clinton this week for her praise of Israel's construction freeze, and restated their refusal to speak with Netanyahu unless Israel freezes building in all Jewish areas in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.