Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman took to the radio waves Wednesday to paint
his Tuesday meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in cheery colors,
saying reports of a cold meeting between the two were greatly
“I think that it was a very serious meeting on very
sensitive issues,” Lieberman told Army Radio of the meeting that lasted –
depending on who was keeping time – between 30 to 50 minutes.
the first Lieberman- Clinton meeting since September 2010, and only Lieberman’s
second visit to Washington since he became foreign minister in 2009. It came
amid widespread speculation that Lieberman has been sidelined with regards to
Washington, in favor of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who goes there
Asked directly if it was true that he was not wanted in
Washington, viewed as an obstacle to peace and that the Obama administration
preferred to conduct a dialogue with Barak instead, Lieberman responded, “you
don’t have to seriously relate to every foolish thing that every leper spreads
in the media.”
A spokesman for Lieberman said that the meeting lasted 50
minutes, and was “very serious” and “truly good.”
“Look, I hear all the
nonsense in the Israeli media, and we truly have sophisticated zealots,”
Lieberman said. “But it is not important what I say, and not important what they
say. What is important is what is coming out from the State
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, at her daily
press briefing on Tuesday, characterized the meeting as a “wide-ranging
discussion” and said among the topics discussed were “US-Israeli relations,
Iran, Egypt, Syria, Middle East peace, Turkey, Iraq – just a little bit on
Nuland said that with regard to US-Israeli ties, Clinton
“reconfirmed our unshakable commitment to the relationship, not only to Israel’s
security, but to Israel’s democracy, based on our shared values and the ties
between our people.”
In December Clinton raised a lot of eyebrows in
Israel when, at a private meeting at a Washington conference, she said she was
concerned about Israel’s democracy.
Nuland also said the two “talked
extensively” about the impact new sanctions taken by various countries around
the world were having on Iran.
Regarding the diplomatic process, Nuland
said Lieberman expressed his commitment to the two-state solution. She
also said the two discussed the Hamas-Fatah Doha unity agreement, and “the fact
that it’s not particularly clear what this agreement will change.” Nuland said
that US Mideast envoy David Hale was in the region consulting with the parties
following “a number of good preliminary rounds” of talks in Amman.
a pause in those talks “while the parties are home and working,” Nuland said the
US’s “hope, and expectation, is that the parties will come back to the table
soon under the Jordanian auspices.”
After Nuland said the Clinton-
Lieberman meeting lasted “half an hour, 40 minutes,” one reporter noted that if
they did talk about seven subjects, that meant about four minutes per
“Highly efficient humans, both of them,” Nuland quipped.
addition to meeting Clinton, Lieberman also met with Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Massachusetts); Senators John McCain
(R-Arizona); Joseph Lieberman (IConnecticut); Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina);
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); and members of the House Foreign Affairs
committee, headed by Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R-Florida), before flying to New York
with meetings there with leaders of Jewish organizations.
He is scheduled
back in Israel Thursday afternoon.
Lieberman, meanwhile, related to the
situation in Syria during the Army Radio interview, making it clear that any
alternative to Syrian President Bashar Assad would be better for Israel. Up
until now, Jerusalem’s position has been that Assad is very bad, but that Israel
did not really know who, or what, would come in his place.
that the “unholy trinity” of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah was definitely a
“significant threat, and anything else would be an improvement.
when taking into consideration that we have no certainty what will happen the
day after [Assad], I say that in the current situation any alternative is
better,” he said.