Posts Tagged ‘Ehud Olmert’

The chapter begins with Hillary explaining briefly the history of the Palestinian flag, its symbolism, and her impression upon finding it flying beside the Israeli flag at the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when she arrived for a close, tight, tiny meeting in September 2010.  Only  Mahmoud Abbas, Hillary, George Mitchell, and Netanyahu himself were secluded in Bibi’s personal study.  An impatient press was gathered outside.  Things were tense.  A construction freeze was about to expire.

The photo below was taken early in her tenure at State when she attended a conference on humanitarian aid to Gaza.  The Obama administration entered this arena to a three-day-old cease-fire and a Gaza reduced to rubble and in dire need of humanitarian aid.   Reading it now, we might feel as if we have come full circle and need another of these donor conferences for the region.

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Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Gaza Conference

March 3, 2009 by still4hill

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All of us recognize that human progress depends on the human spirit. That a child growing up in Gaza without shelter, health care, or an education has the same right to go to school, see a doctor, and live with a roof over her head as a child growing up in your country or mine. That a mother and father in the West Bank struggling to fulfill their dreams for their children have the same right as parents anywhere else in the world to a good job, a decent home, and the tools to achieve greater prosperity and peace.

On that first official visit to the Middle East  she met with both  the outgoing Israeli government and the incoming one.  Hillary’s first phone call as secretary of state to a foreign leader was to Ehud Olmert.

Hillary Clinton With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert


Hillary Clinton with Tzipi Livni

There is a long time friendship between the Clinton and Peres families.  At this meeting he gave her a bouquet composed of every flower that grows in Israel.

Hillary Clinton with Shimon Peres


Her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,  met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton astoundingly rarely.  Far more frequently she met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Hillary Clinton with Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman

She visited an English language teaching program in Ramallah.  Amideast is a major source of Middle Eastern students to U.S. universities.  They manage government scholarships for Saudi students and also Fulbright scholarships.

Hillary Clinton at an Amideast Event


The issue at this point was the controversial Goldstone Report.  All of the links below contain policy comments about it.

Secretary Clinton & Ambassador Rice: Remarks After Meeting on the Adoption of a UNSC Resolution to Combat Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

The Secretary’s Week in Review

Secretary Clinton: Interviews Galore!

Press Briefing on the Plane to Cairo

Secretary Clinton Remarks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Gheit

Secretary Clinton: Two Interviews

Video & Text: Middle East Quartet Statement, Press Briefing, & Secretary Clinton’s Remarks

The announcement, right before AIPAC and while Joe Biden was visiting Israel of 1,600 new settlement units to be constructed was considered a major insult to the U.S.  Obama was furious, and it was Hillary’s job to communicate that to Netanyahu.  Bibi denied responsibility but did not cancel the construction.

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton at 2010 AIPAC Conference


Last fall, I stood next to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and praised his government’s decision to place a moratorium on new residential construction in the West Bank. And then I praised it again in Cairo and in Marrakesh and in many places far from Jerusalem to make clear that this was a first step, but it was an important first step. And yes, I underscored the longstanding American policy that does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlements. As Israel’s friend, it is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed….


New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides say want and need. And it exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit. It undermines America’s unique ability to play a role – an essential role – in the peace process. Our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don’t agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally.

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks At the American Jewish Committee Annual Gala Dinner

In 2011 Goldstone retracted part of the report.  The damage had already been done.  The Palestinians were planning to put a statehood vote before the Security Council.

Hillary points out that the Obama administration policy, indeed, U.S. policy, is and has been a two-state solution as stated in Obama’s Cairo speech.  This was not a new policy and had remained a U.S. goal from the Clinton administration through the George W. Bush administration   But a vote in the Security Council was not the intended route.  There were supposed to be negotiated compromises.

She recalled their visit, before the speech, to the Sultan Hassan Mosque and the peace and calm she sensed there in the middle of a presidential visit and major policy rollout.

Secretary Clinton in Cairo

Ten days after the Cairo speech, Netanyahu endorsed the two-state solution in a speech at Bar-Ilan University.

For Netanyahu, the major sticking point from the start was the condition of a freeze on  construction of settlements.  He announced a 10-month freeze on October 31.  Hillary called the move “unprecedented” and felt a good deal of kickback for the word which she continues to stand by.  Abbas, for his part, agreed to delay the statehood vote at the U.N.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Hillary got along especially well with Ehud Barak and speaks fondly of him as endlessly optimistic and a voice for peace.  He evidently also had her on speed dial and would ring her up and say, “Hillary, let’s strategize.”  They met officially on a frequent basis and were quite a pair!

Secretary of State Clinton and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speak to reporters Secretary of State Clinton and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speak to reporters in Washington

When, in May 2010,  there was an Israeli attack on a Turkish flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists bound for Gaza resulting in the death of nine Turkish citizens, Barak called Hillary while she was marching in the Memorial Day parade.

Video: Bill & Hillary Clinton in the Memorial Day Parade in Chappaqua, NY

Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu  warned that this could mean war between Turkey and Israel, called it Turkey’s 9/11, and was at the State Department the next morning.  He was very emotional.  Hillary contacted Netanyahu who wanted to patch things up but would not apologize.  During her tenure, he never did apologize, but called Erdogan in March 2013 when Obama was in Jerusalem with an apology.  According to Hillary the patching up is still in progress.

Secretary Clinton: Photos of the Day

Hillary Clinton Day One Mid-East Peace Talks

Photos: Hillary Opens Mid-East Peace Talks

Video: Secretary Clinton Relaunches Mid-East Peace Talks

… by being here today, you each have taken an important step toward freeing your peoples from the shackles of a history we cannot change, and moving toward a future of peace and dignity that only you can create.

The upshot was that the parties agreed to meet in Sharm el Sheikh in two weeks.   Hillary commented that her work as secretary of state frequently brought her to lovely resorts. She never had the opportunity to enjoy any of them for all the work that needed to be done.

Where Hillary Clinton is going

From Sharm el Sheikh: Slideshow and Briefing by George Mitchell

Secretary Clinton’s Press Briefing En Route Sharm El Sheikh

Hillary in Jerusalem

September 15, 2010 by still4hill

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Israeli President Shimon Peres Before their Meeting

Hillary Clinton in Ramallah and Amman

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh


Later that month she met with Abbas and Ehud Barak on the sidelines at UNGA.  No statements.  One photo.  No real progress. President Obama pressed for an extension of the freeze.  Abbas was essentially saying “choose between peace and settlements.”  Hillary spoke with Ehud Barak but Bibi refused to budge.  Abbas was ready to go ahead with a statehood vote in the Security Council while Hillary kept telling him the only path to peace was via negotiations. In a phone call with Bibi, Hillary encountered intransigence.


Then,  In November a door opened a crack, and Hillary flew to New York to breeze through it.

Hillary Clinton’s Mid-East Charm Offensive: Remarks Before Her Meeting With Netanyahu

Hillary, Bibi in the New York Marathon: Joint Statement at the Finish Line

Hillary, Bibi, and the NYC Marathon Take Two: Some Reviews

Eventually there was a proposal to halt construction for 90 days in exchange for a $3 billion security package and a promise to veto any resolutions at the U.N. that would undercut negotiations.  No one liked this solution including Hillary.   She told Tony Blair that she felt it was a sacrifice worth making.   It began to disintegrate almost at birth and was dust by November.

Hillary took a strong stand at the Saban Forum in December.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy Seventh Annual Forum

December 11, 2010 by still4hill

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington


The United States and the international community cannot impose a solution. Sometimes I think both parties seem to think we can. We cannot. And even if we could, we would not, because it is only a negotiated agreement between the parties that will be sustainable. The parties themselves have to want it. The people of the region must decide to move beyond a past that cannot change and embrace a future they can shape together.

President Obama went to the State Department to reiterate the U.S. position regarding the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.  Bibi ignored the swaps part of that and Abbas could not guarantee that a new push for statehood would not happen at the U.N.

George Mitchell resigned.

Hillary says the tiny private meeting in September 2010 at Bibi’s residence when he raised the Palestinian flag to welcome Abbas to his home might have been the last time Abbas and Netanyahu spoke.  It might have been.

Gaza: Netanyahu and Abbas had secret meeting before ceasefire

If Bibi is going to threaten to fire his chief negotiator, Tsipi Livni, for talking with Abbas and has to conceal this possible meeting, chances for negotiation look bleak.

Hillary ends quoting Yitzhak Rabin.  “The coldest peace is better than the warmest war.”


Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

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Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
March 3, 2009
Date: 03/03/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during statement at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: Good evening. I welcome the Secretary of State of the United States of America to (inaudible) on her first visit to Israel in her new position. The Secretary of State has an excellent familiarity with the state of Israel and the entire Middle East, one which goes back many years. And I’m certain that she will know how to utilize all the experience and knowledge she acquired through the years, and as a leading senator in order to represent the United States’ interest and those of the entire free world, and to advance stability and quiet in the region, (inaudible) the goal we all share.
The friendship between the United States and Israel is close and long-lived. Throughout my entire tenure, our two countries nurtured and strengthened (inaudible) friendship. I’m certain that President Obama and the Secretary of State will work in cooperation with any Israeli Government and will remain committed to the well-being and the security of Israel as a Jewish state.
I expect that our discussion will undoubtedly deal with the bilateral relations between our countries as well as regional issues. The Secretary of State has arrived here at the prime minister’s residence after a day of discussions with the president of the state of Israel and with my colleagues, and I am certain that she heard about our concerns and hopes from all of them.
I will share our increasing concern about the Iranian threat with her. The position of Israel, as I’ve already outlined, is that Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. And I heard President Obama and the Secretary of State that they resolutely object to a nuclear Iran. We will discuss ways in which we can ensure this.
With regard to our hopes, I will share with the Secretary of State the position my government has taken to advance peace between us and the Palestinians, and together we will discuss ways to advance peace in the region as part of the two-states solution. This is the only solution. There is no doubt, and it reflects absolutely Israel’s supreme strategic interest, as well as the interest of the Palestinian people.
I will update the Secretary of State with regard to the peace negotiations we conducted with Syria through the Turkish mediation, and together we will discuss ways in which we can extricate as many countries in the region from extremism in order to weaken the strengths and influence of those countries which support terror and of terrorist organizations in the region.
I will certainly update her with regard to the situation in southern Israel and about our intention to continue defending ourselves from any terrorist organization on the part – or aggression on the part of Hamas and other terrorist organizations which, unfortunately, (inaudible) in the Gaza Strip. In fact, they continue almost on a daily basis to shoot against innocent Israelis living in the southern part of Israel. And this is, of course, something which is totally unacceptable and intolerable to us and to everyone who lives in the state of Israel.
Madame Secretary of State, I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with you in your new position. Your courage, your commitment, your international experience, and the brave friendship you have demonstrated for the state of Israel throughout the years will certainly find expression in your new role and assist in your success.
I am totally convinced that you will continue to advance and strengthen the relations between Israel with the greatest friend we have in the whole world, the United States of America. Welcome.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister, and it is indeed a personal delight for me to be here this evening. I thank you for the generous offer of hospitality. As you’ve pointed out when I came in, I have been to this home before, and it always reminds me of the many years of friendship and people whose lives have intersected with mine. I am grateful for this opportunity to return as my country’s Secretary of State on behalf of President Obama, and to have the opportunity you just briefly outlined to discuss the range of issues that are of concern to Israel and the United States.
I’ve had a wonderful day. As the prime minister pointed out, it started with an old friend, Shimon Peres, then I was honored to go to Yad Vashem to see some of the new parts of the museum and memorial, and to pay tribute there to the 6 million lives lost in the Holocaust, and to lay a wreath and pay respect to the eternal flame.
The United States and Israel face a number of serious challenges, and it was important for me to be here and to be with my delegation, including our Middle East Envoy Senator Mitchell – who has been here before and will be back numerous times in the future – to engage in in-depth discussions with Israel’s leaders on these matters of grave mutual concern.
But I also enjoyed the opportunity to have a discussion with a group of women entrepreneurs, just a short while ago at the hotel, who are being featured in a little video made for a contest that the United States State Department is running seeking interesting projects around the world. There were so many hundreds of them submitted. This project from Israel discusses a supportive community that helps women become entrepreneurs, particularly immigrant women, women from the former Soviet Union, women from Ethiopia and elsewhere.
As we discuss the critical issues of our time, it’s also important to remember why we do this. It is to provide the people, who both the prime minister and I are privileged to represent, with a chance to fulfill their own dreams, to live lives in safety and security, and to be given the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.
When we sometimes discuss these serious matters of terrorism and extremism, of the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we can’t disconnect it from what we are attempting to do – to make sure that the people of Israel have a chance to live and flourish in a safe and secure environment, and as the prime minister said, to seek a way that they can live next to their Palestinian neighbors in a safe and secure environment.
I am very grateful, once again, to be here in Israel and pledging not only my personal commitment, but that of my country, to the fundamental and unshakable bond that joins us to Israel’s security and to our enduring bonds of friendship.
Thank you so much, Prime Minister.
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