US, Israel inching away over Palestine?

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Hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's highly anticipated meeting with the US officials has ended in a rift over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During a meeting between Netanyahu and the US president on Monday, Barack Obama took a tough line on the construction of Israeli Jewish settlements on the Palestinian land and urged Tel Aviv to create an independent Palestinian state.

Only a day after the Washington meeting, however, senior Israeli officials said that the two-state solution was \"stupid and childish\" and that Israel would continue its settlement expansions on the Palestinian territory.

\"This idea of two states for two peoples is a stupid and childish solution to a very complex problem,\" the Israeli officials were quoted by Ynet as saying.

This is while, on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again called for an absolute stop to all the Israeli settlement activities to pave way for the creation of an Israeli state.

In recent months Israel has announced the construction of hundreds of new Jewish homes in the territory -- a move in breach of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

During his trip to Washington, Netanyahu constantly made attempts to shift emphasis from Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking process towards Iran\'s nuclear program and the Israeli-Syrian peace talks, while mentioning the Palestinian peace process as the third issue during the meeting.

The new far-right government in Tel Aviv has sparked controversy with the contention that the administration of US President Barack Obama would under-no-circumstance show opposition to Israeli policies.

\"Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,\" Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a centerpiece in the controversy, said in April in his first interview on foreign policy.

This is while Washington has drawn down on its carte blanche support for Tel Aviv since the Bush Administration handed over to Obama. However, the presence of a powerful Israeli lobby -- AIPAC -- on Capitol Hill gravely heartens the Netanyahu government.