Secretary Clinton Fractures Elbow After Butting Heads with Israel's Foreign Minister
by Charles Lemos, Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 10:05:57 PM EDT
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fractured her right elbow after a fall. Secretary Clinton was on her way to the White House when she fell and injured her elbow, chief of staff Cheryl Mills said in a statement released late Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Secretary met with Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. The meeting did not go well. More from the Financial Times:
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, clashed face to face with her Israeli counterpart on Wednesday as the two countries remained at loggerheads over the expansion of settlements in occupied territory.
In what appeared one of the most tense encounters between the sides for several years, Mrs Clinton and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, disagreed on both the US call for a complete freeze on settlement growth and Israel's contention that the administration of George W. Bush, the former president, had signalled that some expansion was permissible.
"We cannot accept this vision about absolutely, completely freezing all settlements," Mr Lieberman said.
In response, Mrs Clinton underlined the US call for a "stop to the settlements", a move she described as "an important and essential part of pursuing the efforts leading to a comprehensive peace agreement".
The meeting at the state department in Washington confirmed that the countries remain at odds on settlements, in spite of the decision of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, to endorse the goal of a Palestinian state. His declaration, which was subject to conditions, followed sustained US pressure.
Wednesday's encounter was all the more significant for Mr Lieberman's record as the leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, who blasted the previous Israeli government's peace efforts. Mr Lieberman is not seen as a promising interlocutor by Barack Obama's administration, which has instead focused its demands on Mr Netanyahu.
"We must keep the natural growth," Mr Lieberman said on Wednesday, referring to the argument that settlements sometimes need to expand to keep pace with births and marriages.
The US argues that such references to "natural growth" have in fact enabled large-scale settlement growth in the past.
While Mr Lieberman suggested that Israel had reached "some understandings with the previous [Bush] administration" allowing natural growth, Mrs Clinton vigorously rejected such a claim.
"In looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements," she said. "That has been verified by the official record of the administration and by the personnel in positions of responsibility."
Israel will likely continue to build settlements but it will do so to its own detriment. As the President noted in Cairo, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." He added that "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."