June '09: CODELS ACKERMAN AND CASEY MEETINGS WITH PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:
"The Prime Minister discussed his visit to Washington, focusing on his discussions of Iran, a regional approach in support of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and his approach to the Palestinians and settlements, including his opposition to a complete freeze on settlement construction.
"Netanyahu told CODEL Ackerman that he did not feel boxed in politically and that his coalition in fact reflects the demands of the Israeli public to address their concern about security. While some argue that agreements bring security, Netanyahu said Israel's experience of the past fifteen years proved that neither agreements nor unilateral withdrawals brought security. Netanyahu said he had told President Obama that while he would not condition negotiations with the Palestinians on halting Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon, if Iran obtained such a weapon it would destroy any progress made toward peace.
"Netanyahu said he wants to work with the U.S. on the basis of the understandings reached with the Bush Administration, i.e. that Israel will not build new settlements or seize more land, but if families grow, they will still have the right to build within existing settlement boundaries. Now Israel is hearing that the U.S. wants no construction at all. Israelis consider this position to be unfair, he said. The question is whether the U.S. is seeking a geographic or a demographic restriction on settlements.
"Netanyahu commented that Israel needs a common understanding with the U.S. The U.S. position should be "reasonable," since opposition to a total freeze cuts across political parties in Israel. This is more of an issue with the U.S. than with the Palestinians, Netanyahu asserted, arguing that the PA will go along if there is an understanding between Israel and the U.S. He noted that Israeli officials were meeting with U.S. officials on this issue, adding that there could be an understanding if the U.S. wants one. Netanyahu commented that he understood there should be no land seizures, but he could not tell settlers not to have children.