Last updated: 7 February, 2012

Clinton meets Israeli Foreign Minister amid Iran crisis

The United States said Tuesday that Israel has committed to seeking a two-state solution despite the Jewish state’s warnings to the Palestinian leadership over its reconciliation with Hamas.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Washington with Israel’s outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman over issues in the Middle East including Iran’s contested nuclear program and the Palestinian situation.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday signed a deal to lead a consensus government with Hamas, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn him that he must choose between making peace with the Jewish state or the Islamist movement.

Clinton and Lieberman did not speak to reporters, but Clinton’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland insisted that Israel was committed to the peace process.

“The foreign minister reconfirmed Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution, made clear that this is the policy of the entire coalition government and their interest in continuing the process of trying to get to direct talks,” Nuland told reporters.

Clinton and Lieberman talked of “the importance of trying to maintain the momentum that’s begun, and about the fact that we are continuing to work with the partners that we have on the Palestinian side who have been important to this process,” Nuland said.

Asked about Abbas’ deal with Hamas, Nuland said: “I think our view is that we wait to see whether this arrangement will actually be implemented, whether it will actually change anything.”

She said that the United States shared Israel’s view of Hamas.

“Our red lines about Hamas are the same red lines that the Israelis have: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to all of those past Palestinian agreements,” Nuland said.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since September 2010 despite periodic US and other attempts to revive them.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon last week visited the region and called on Israel to halt settlement activity and offer the Palestinians a “goodwill gesture” to help restart talks.