Lieberman: Settlement construction effectively frozen

Report: Lieberman tells media Israel won't tolerate situation indefinitely, waiting for talks with US.

Lieberman press 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Lieberman press 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Construction in West Bank settlements is effectively frozen, Israel Radio quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying Thursday afternoon. According to the report, the foreign minister clarified that Israel would not tolerate this situation for an extended period of time, and said that Jerusalem was waiting for the next round of talks with the US on the matter. His comments seemed to echo those of senior diplomatic sources quoted in The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, who said US Middle East envoy George Mitchell was well aware that the Netanyahu government has not approved any new buildings in the West Bank since taking office. They signaled that a de facto settlement freeze had already been in effect for more than four months. Speaking to journalists at a Russian-language press conference, Lieberman went on to say that he will attend the UN General Assembly in New York in September, where he will meet with Mitchell, and expects an answer from him on the settlements issue. He also told reporters that the US congress should look into issues such as human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. "There are many issues in the world to deal with, apart from just the Middle East," he said, specifically listing North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet with Mitchell on August 26 in London to discuss the settlement issue and the diplomatic process. US officials said recently that the US and Israel were making progress on the issue and heading toward a conclusion. Herb Keinon contributed to this report