Lieberman: U.S. settlement demand a ‘mistake’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Avigdor Lieberman said the Obama’s administration demand that Israel stop building settlements is a "mistake."

In an interview with Time magazine, the Israeli foreign minister also said that Israel is "trying to formulate some understanding with the U.S." on the issue.

"We don’t speak of building new settlements. We don’t speak of expansion. We try to build only within existing construction lines," Lieberman said. But "we cannot suffocate our own people. You know, babies are born. People get married. We cannot stop life. People want to build a synagogue or a kindergarten."

Lieberman also criticized Western countries for refusing to rule out dialogue with the current Iranian government.

"This really fanatic extremist regime is still in power, and the young people who are ready to fight and die for change are not getting any real support from the West," he told Time. "The fact that this regime continues to be an acceptable partner for dialogue is really a bad message. It shows the bad guys are winners."

Lieberman also said he was "ready to start talks with any country in our region," adding "I’m ready to take a jet to Damascus to meet" Syrian President Bashir Assad.

He also said that "transfer of populations" is neither "acceptable nor possible."

Lieberman in the past has proposed that Israel’s borders be redrawn to exclude large Israeli Arab population centers, which would become part of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, and include in Israel large West Bank settlement blocs.

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