Israel was willing to extend the settlement freeze for another three months but decided not to "because the US said that what would happen is that we'd end up spending a lot of political capital, and on the 91st day, they [the Palestinians] would ask for more," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a speech to foreign journalists.

Netanyahu reiterated that "no coalition will prevent me from pursuing a peace that I believe in. If I move forward with a peace agreement, it means I believe in it, and I can get the support of the Israeli public."

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Speaking about the Palestinians, the prime minister said, "I hate to use cliches, but this is a cliche I have to use. The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

He added, "There is no shortcut for negotiations, the only way to get to peace is negotiations."

Responding to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's criticism Monday of Likud ministers, Netanyahu said: "I don't appreciate his criticism of my colleagues, because I don't think there is anyone that can teach them patriotism, concern for Israeli security, and democratic values. The Likud will stay this way, and the government will stay this way."

Ben Spier contributed to this report.

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