Clinton says U.S. wants total freeze on settlements


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration wants a complete stop to settlement expansion, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.

The U.S. secretary of state’s remarks after a meeting with her Egyptian counterpart on Wednesday were unusually blunt and far-reaching.

“With respect to settlements, the president was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here,” she said, referring to last week’s summit between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point.”

Clinton’s remarks came on the eve of a meeting Thursday between Obama and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

U.S. officials until now have not explicitly called for an end to “natural growth” and have tacitly approved “vertical growth,” or the addition of rooms and apartments within settlement confines to accommodate growing families.

Israeli media quoted Israeli government officials as insisting that “natural growth” will continue.

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