Days after a fairly frictionless meeting between the two heards of state in Washington, the Israeli government isn't exactly playing along with the firm Obama-Clinton call for a total settlement freeze:

Israel contests that new construction must take place to accommodate for expanding families inside the existing settlements, which the U.S. and much of the world consider an obstacle to peace because they are built on land the Palestinians claim for a future state.

When asked to respond to Clinton's call for a total settlement freeze, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue. Pressed on whether the phrase normal life meant some construction will take place in existing settlements, Regev said it did.

Incidentally, Hillary's call yesterday for a total settlement freeze--including a halt to "natural growth" expansion within existing settlements--goes a bit further than Obama's position as of his June 2008 appearance before AIPAC, when he simply urged Israel to "refrain from building new settlements," although more recently Joe Biden did tell AIPAC this month it was time to "dismantle existing outposts."

--Michael Crowley