Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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Interview With Elise Labott of CNN


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
July 17, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Let’s start with your trip to Egypt. It wasn’t a very warm welcome by a lot of Egyptians. There were very nasty protests, protesters throwing shoes. In your meetings with Christian leaders, a lot of uncertainty about U.S. policy, it doesn’t seem very popular. They feel that you’re siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, there’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in Egypt right now. They’re doing something they’ve never done in 5,000-plus years of history. They have had elections. They’ve elected a president, but they still don’t have a government. They don’t know what the platform is going to be. They’re not sure of the legal standing of some of their new institutions. And there are understandable concerns by many, many Egyptians. I don’t think that’s at all unusual.

But what I was looking for was a chance to hear directly from people, and I knew very well there’d be a lot of passion and conviction expressed, which I think demonstrates how invested Egyptians are in trying to make sure their democratic transition works out for the benefit of all the Egyptians – men and women, Muslim and Christian, everybody.

QUESTION: Are you prepared to use U.S. influence like aid to make sure the military lets that transition happen?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve been talking with everybody in Egypt about what we can do to try to help their economic situation, which is quite serious. But until there’s a government in place, until there’s a finance minister and a prime minister, people with whom we can actually talk specifics, we won’t be able to know exactly what we can offer, what we can expect, and then what kind of accountability to seek.

QUESTION: The Israelis are really walking on eggshells now about this issue on the Sinai. It’s become a virtual no-man’s land, like a pre-Afghanistan situation where you have the safe haven on terrorists. What assurances are you bringing to the Israelis? Have you discussed in your meetings with the Israeli leaders? What assurances from President Morsi are you bringing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I discussed at length the situation in the Sinai in Egypt and then again today in Israel. We share the concern. We think this is a dangerous situation for both Egypt and for Israel. It’s also dangerous for Americans. We have Americans as part of the multinational force that observes the continuation of the Camp David Accords. We have Americans in the Sinai. We’ve had a few concerns about their safety. So this is not only about Egypt and Israel, it’s also about the United States and other members of that multinational force. So it’s in everyone’s interest that we work together to make sure that security is in place in Sinai.

Because it’s not only the lawlessness that took place after the Egyptian revolution, it is the import of weapons from outside Egypt and the Sinai; it is the potential of jihadists and terrorists taking up an operational base in Sinai. So we spent a lot of time talking about what more needed to be done to get some more attention paid to the Sinai.

QUESTION: And you think President Morsi will do that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think he is concerned about any part of the country that might cause problems for Egyptians and for others beyond his border. And certainly in my meeting with Field Marshal Tantawi, he is very focused on that as well.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Iran. There have been a steady stream of officials coming, in addition to Bill Burns, for the national dialogue – yourself, National Security Advisor Donilon, and Defense Secretary Panetta. Some people are dubbing this the please don’t bomb Iran tour, I mean, but in all seriousness, how much of this – how concerned are you that the Israelis are looking to make a strike against Iran? Those Iran talks are not going well. And how much of this is an effort to say to the Israelis, “Don’t do it. We have this under control”?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise, we have upped our intensive dialogues and consultations with the Israelis over the last three years to an unprecedented level. It’s not at all unusual to have a constant flow of senior officials, and of course Iran is on our agenda with Israel. It’s on our agenda with so many countries around the world, as you know, but that’s not the only issue that we discuss.

We discuss how we can try to keep moving toward some peace process outcome that will bring about a two-state solution. We talk about what’s happening in the region in Syria, for example. We have broad-based consultations.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Syria. A year ago when you were in Lithuania, you said that time was running out for the Assad regime. There were 1,000 people dead. When you were in Tokyo, you said the sands are coming out of the hour glass. Now there are 10,000 people dead. What is the threshold, Madam Secretary, that these don’t become empty words and there will be some type of intervention to get rid of President Assad?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are trying to intervene. We’re trying to intervene in a way that brings about an end to the violence and a transition to a democratic future that doesn’t require adding to the violence, further militarizing the conflict, perhaps killing more people and pushing them across the borders. I think that everyone is very wary, for good reason, of that kind of intervention. But certainly what we’ve tried to do to get nations that have been skeptical on board with us, most particularly the Russians and the Chinese, what we’ve done to try to help reassure and provide humanitarian assistance to the neighboring countries that are absorbing the refugees.

But Elise, everybody is as outraged as I am, and I think for very good reason, at what we see happening. It’s horrific what’s happening. But you have to look at all the consequences of any action that the outside could take. And there are many instances that I could point to where you could make things worse. You could add to the violence through some kind of military intervention, which is why you see the region itself, which is living with this terrible regime and what it’s doing to its people, being especially careful.

So yeah, the time is running out. I can’t put a definite hour and minute on it, but the Assad regime is not going to survive. I just wish it would end sooner instead of later.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you keep saying that the Russians need to pay a price. You’re urging the world to show Russia there’s a price. What price is the U.S. prepared to make Russia pay?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our commitment is to try to get Russia to cooperate with us. So we want the rest of the world to put pressure on Russia in the Security Council so that they will support a Chapter 7 resolution, where we can impose very hard sanctions on people and institutions that support the regime. That would be the best signal we could send to Assad that his days are numbered. As long as he has Iran in his corner, which he does, and as long as he has Russia uncertain about whether or not to side against him in any more dramatic way than it already has, he feels like he can keep going. And that’s the message we want to reverse.

QUESTION: You’ve been talking about the peace process here. Even though you have these letters, there’s this sense of some momentum. A lot of – some of the parties are saying we’re just running out the clock ‘til there’s an election in the U.S. and hoping that President Obama will get re-elected, and you’ll be able to do something meaningful. What do you say to that argument?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I say that you should not waste a day in trying to achieve a resolution to the ongoing conflict and dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is so much in the interest of Israel. It is so much in the interest of the Palestinians. And now the way the region is in turmoil, it would be a great signal of stability and a positive view of what the future can be. So I don’t want anybody to wait for anything because I think that’s wasted time.

QUESTION: But you’ve had a front seat to this conflict for 20 years, from Oslo, first with your husband, as a Senator, as a Secretary of State. Is this every going to get solved?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I’m an optimist. I believe that eventually it will, because I think it must. I think there’s just so much at stake. But ultimately it’s not up to the United States. We are deeply committed to a peaceful outcome that secures Israel’s border and Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state. We are committed to the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state, but ultimately it comes down to the two of them. I had firsthand experience in Northern Ireland. They had to decide they were finally ready to stop fighting and killing before there could be any process, and then the process took years.

So I know that, again, these are intractable problems – they – in the eyes of many. But I think part of my job and part of what the United States does is just not to give up, to be persistent, to keep raising the issues and demonstrating how important it is to move forward.

QUESTION: It’s been a very long trip. Twenty-seven thousand miles you clocked.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Is that all? It felt like a million. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: There was a sense that you feel that the clock is running out and you need to pack as much in; you might have some unfinished business. I mean, what is this massive pace all about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I had work to do. I had to be in Paris for the Friends of Syria, then I had to go to Tokyo two days later for the International Donor Conference on Afghanistan, and then I had to end up in Cambodia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and – I mean so a lot of my schedule is predetermined. It’s places, it’s meetings, it’s events where the United States must be represented and it’s my job to represent us. And I could go home, I suppose, between these meetings, but it seems to me it makes more sense, it is more efficient to go to places, to engage in serious discussions, to look for ways to advance America’s interest, security, and values, and that’s what I’ve done from the first day I became Secretary. It’s what I intend to do until the last day that I leave the office.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, last question: I know you don’t like to talk about politics right now, but Mitt Romney is using you in a negative ad against President Obama, using a clip of you talking in the campaign. How does that make you feel?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am out of politics and I haven’t seen any of the ads that you’re talking about, but I have to say I think it’s a waste of money. I mean, everybody knows I ran against President Obama in 2008. That’s hardly news. Everybody knows we ran a hard-fought campaign and he won, and I have been honored to serve as his Secretary of State, working with him to advance America’s interests, values, and security. So I don’t understand why they’re wasting their money, but that’s their decision.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, go back to the United States and get some rest, and we’ll see you on the next trip. Thank you very much for joining us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Elise. Good to talk to you.

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Remarks At A Press Availability

Press Availability

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
David Citadel Hotel
July 16, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good evening, everyone. I’m sorry to keep you so late, but it’s been a very busy and active, productive day here in Jerusalem. I’m happy to be back in Israel and happy to be consulting very broadly with my colleagues and counterparts.

I know that there are a lot of issues that are of concern to both of us right now, but let me start by stating the obvious. Israel is a nation that shares a special bond with the United States. We are friends; we are allies. And more than that, Israel holds great personal significance for many Americans, including myself. I’ve been coming to Israel for more than 30 years. I count not only many friends, but many memories from those trips.

So being here today to reiterate our commitment to Israel’s security, our investment in Israel’s long-term future, making it clear that we are connected on a deep level of shared values, and that we are determined to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of this time.

Israel and the United States cooperate every single day at the highest level and across many dimensions. We saw that this week with the U.S.- Israel Strategic Dialogue, chaired by Deputy Secretary Bill Burns; Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor’s in-depth strategic consultations; Secretary of Defense Panetta will be here later this month; and of course, my visit today.

I had a chance to cover a range of foreign policy issues with President Peres, Foreign Minister Lieberman, Defense Minister Barak, and of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his office and cabinet.

Let me start with Egypt. This weekend, I traveled to Cairo. I met with the new President, a number of other key stakeholders, as well as Field Marshal Tantawi. My message in public and in private was the same: The United States and the international community look to the new leaders of Egypt to play a constructive role in advancing regional peace and security, in particular by upholding their international agreements, including the peace treaty with Israel. It’s obvious that both Israel and Egypt, along with the region and indeed the world, all share a strong interest and commitment to this treaty which has served as a backbone for regional stability for more than three decades.

We also discussed our commitment to bring about a comprehensive regional peace in the Middle East, peace among Israel, the Palestinian people, and Israel’s Arab neighbors. I’ve spoken many times about the forces of demography, technology, and ideology because I believe all three call for an urgent negotiated solution. And I’ve also been clear that it is only through negotiation, not through international venues or unilateral acts, that peace can be and will be secured. This is a point I also repeated in my meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad this afternoon and President Abbas last week in Paris and Israel’s leaders today.

We all spoke about how to build on the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to get negotiations going because we know the status quo is unsustainable. The proof is in the security threats Israel faces – rocket attacks, terrorist threats, challenges in Gaza and on your borders. And so our goal remains an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a secure Jewish democratic state of Israel.

As we proceed, we must keep supporting the Palestinian Authority as they work to provide security and economic growth to their people. And in my excellent meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad today, he briefed me on the challenges the Palestinian Authority faces, and we discussed how the United States and the international community can help support them.

Another focus of today’s conversations was our joint efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As President Obama has said, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Because of our work to rally the international community, Iran is under greater pressure now than ever before. That pressure will continue and increase so long as Iran fails to meet its international obligations. We all prefer a diplomatic resolution and Iran’s leaders still have the opportunity to make the right decision. The choice is ultimately Iran’s. Our own choice is clear: We will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Finally, I spoke today about the historic changes sweeping the region and their implications for the stability and prosperity of Israel and her neighbors. We consulted on the alarming events in Syria, which raise deep concerns for every country in this region and for the international community. And more broadly, at this time of change and transformation, we discussed what Israel can do and what we can do together to support regional security and progress.

All my conversations today started from a simple premise: America’s commitment to Israel is rock-solid; by strengthening Israel’s security, we strengthen America’s security. We are two democracies working together to ensure that our people can live without fear and with dignity and opportunity so that men and women, boys and girls, Israelis, Americans, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, people across the region, can fulfill their own God-given potential.

So once again, I appreciate being here. I am only sorry that I have to leave. My traveling team is anxious to get home. I’d like to be hanging out in Jerusalem, but I have to do my duty. So I thank the people of Israel for their friendship with the people of the United States. And with that, I’d be happy to take some questions.

MS. NULAND: Okay. For this evening, we’ll start with AP. Brad Klapper, please.

QUESTION: Yes, Madam Secretary. In the three years since the Obama Administration made Arab-Israeli peace a top priority, there has been no progress. To what do you attribute this failure? And if you could do it all over again, would the Obama Administration do anything differently – maybe on the issue of settlements?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Brad, I’m looking forward because I think that’s where the future lies and where any potential agreements and solutions are waiting for us. As I said, we remain focused on the resumption of direct negotiations, since we believe that is the only route to a lasting, stable peace. My message to both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas was the same, namely that the international community can help – the United States, the Quartet, we stand ready to do so to help support an environment for talks, but it’s up to the parties to do the hard work for peace.

And to those who say the timing isn’t right, the other side has to move first, or the trust just isn’t there, I say peace won’t wait and the responsibility falls on all of us to keep pressing forward. So the United States will keep showing up, as we have for many years now. We’ll keep pushing our friends to do what they can to move the agenda forward. And we will do everything possible to try to see this vision of peace between Israel and the Palestinians realized.

MS. NULAND: Next question (inaudible) Channel 2, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said that you were very coordinated with Israel. After your visit here in Israel, what are the chances that Israel will attack Iran eventually? What is your assumption?

On the matter of Jonathan Pollard, we’ve been here for a long time. Don’t you think it’s a matter of justice and even a humanitarian issue that after almost 27 years in jail he should be released?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Iran, my discussions today are part of a very long, in-depth, ongoing consultation. We always compare notes on Iran, and today’s consultations were particularly timely because our two-track policy of diplomacy and pressure is in full mood here – move here, because the P-5+1 talks, with the imposition of even tougher sanctions. We know the sanctions are biting. Israel and the United States agree on that.

And we talked about concrete steps that we can take to continue to build the pressure. And as to the diplomatic track, I made very, very clear that the proposals we have seen from Iran thus far within the P-5+1 negotiations are nonstarters. Despite three rounds of talks, it appears that Iran has yet to make a strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns and fulfill their obligations under the IAEA and the UN Security Council.

So we are pressing forward in close consultation with Israel. I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of these efforts. I think that it’s absolutely fair to say we are on the same page at this moment trying to figure our way forward to have the maximum impact on affecting the decisions that Iran makes.

With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was, as you know, convicted of spying in 1987. He was sentenced to life in prison. He is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectation that that is going to change.

MS. NULAND: Next question, AFP Jo Biddle, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, in four days the UN’s mandate to Syria will expire. Despite numerous diplomatic efforts, there still seems to be very sharp divisions about coming up with a new resolution. Even today, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accused Western nations of black – or trying to blackmail Russia into getting behind a new resolution. What is your response to his comments? And how concerned are you that in fact diplomatic efforts at the United Nations will fail and the Syrian people will just be left to their own fate?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, we are working very hard in New York in the Security Council to obtain a Chapter 7 resolution with consequences. Kofi Annan is in Moscow today and tomorrow to talk with President Putin and Russian officials to make the case directly to them regarding the importance of having such a UN Security Council resolution.

I spoke with UN Special Envoy Annan yesterday before he left for Moscow, made it clear that there had to be consequences. He has said that. We agree with that completely. So we’re going to continue to press forward in the Security Council. We’re going to continue to press the Russians because that is an important part of reaching a resolution in the Security Council.

But it is worrisome that the violence is increasing, that it is more prevalent in Damascus and the suburbs. I believe – and I’ve said it before and obviously I can’t put a timeline on it – that this regime cannot survive. I just wish that it would move out of the way sooner instead of later so that more lives could be saved and we could have the chance to achieve the kind of democratic transition that we all, including Russia, agreed to in our meeting in Geneva a few weeks ago.

MS. NULAND: And last question before we go home, (inaudible) from (inaudible), please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, two questions, if I may. It comes from Egypt (inaudible). And you were attacked there by protests and (inaudible). Were you offended by the behavior of the new democratic Egypt, Egyptians?

And the other question is, were there – President Morsi said yes to the proposal to meet (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I have been around longer than I care to remember, and protests are not a uniquely Egyptian phenomenon. I have some experience with my own country and other vibrant societies like Israel and elsewhere where protests are part of the fabric of a democracy.

So in one way, seeing people express themselves, even though their assumptions and conclusions were absolutely wrong, is a sign of that freer environment that Egypt now enjoys. It is also evidence that the Egyptian people are still concerned about the future. They’re not yet sure what is the path forward. They have an elected president. They don’t have a parliament that is yet confirmed. They don’t have a constitution. They don’t have a government. So I think it’s understandable that there are many unanswered questions and lots of anxiety about what may or may not be happening.

So the sooner that there can be a government that takes responsibility, whose actions can be judged and held accountable, then people will be able to draw decisions, because words don’t mean as much as action. And therefore, I was not offended. I was relieved that nobody was hurt, and I felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted. But other than that, it was not particularly bothersome.

With respect to your second question, there is a – that is something that is up to the two leaders to determine for themselves. I would only add that the amount of work ahead of this new Egyptian Government would be daunting for the most experienced political leaders. The economy is in desperate need of reform. The political system is a work in progress, a long way from being finalized. There are serious fissures within society that have to be addressed. As I said last night in Alexandria, the real evidence as to what a democracy in Egypt means is not the holding of an election. It is whether the leaders who are elected respect the rights of all Egyptians, protect the rights of minorities, further the rights of women, have a view that the rule of law must be faithfully implemented, protect the independence of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and so much else, because we’ve been at the work of our democracy more than 236 years. This is hard work, as Israel knows very well, every day. It’s not just leaders who have to work at it; citizens have to work at it. And never in the 5,000-year history of Egypt have they ever had this opportunity or challenge.

So we’re going to be watching. We’re going to be doing what we can to make clear what we believe the principles and values of a democracy have to be, and we will be working with those who we believe want to ensure the kind of future for Egypt that will truly benefit the Egyptian people, one and all.

Thank you very much.

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Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
July 16, 2012

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I want to welcome you – shall I say this formally? – Secretary of State Clinton, Hillary, to Jerusalem once again. And I’m – we were just discussing how turbulent and how swiftly changing the world is, in our part of the world in particular, so I look forward first to hearing of your impressions from Egypt. That has been an anchor of peace, and maintaining the peace treaty between us I think is something that is uppermost in both our minds. And I appreciate the efforts that you’re investing to this end.

We’re going to talk about the Palestinians. That is also an anchor of peace, and we have to invest every effort to maintain it, to keep the tranquility, and see if we can move the process forward.

And third, we have our common effort to make sure that Iran not achieve its ambition of developing nuclear weapons.

So that’s a small agenda for this plate and for this dinner, and I look forward to discussing all these issues with you. Welcome to Jerusalem.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Bibi. Well, Prime Minister Bibi, it is wonderful to be back in Jerusalem, to have a chance to meet with your government and now for us to have a working dinner to discuss the broad range of issues that you just mentioned. You’re absolutely right; we’re living in a time of unprecedented change with a lot of challenges for us both. And we will continue to consult closely, as we have on an almost daily basis between our two governments, to chart the best way forward for peace and stability for Israel, the United States, the region, and the world. And we are all delighted to be here with you. Thank you.



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Meets With the Staff and Families of Embassy Tel Aviv and Consulate General Jerusalem


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Consulate General Jerusalem
July 16, 2012

Thank you so much. You all are great, a great sight to see. And I am so happy I have this chance to come and thank you personally for everything you do. And Yael, thank you for your leadership. I first got to know her over the phone as she was eight months pregnant helping to evacuate our mission in Tripoli. And it’s wonderful to see you here. I haven’t yet met your daughter, but I’m looking forward to that. And I want to thank everyone who brought these young people out to see me. I’m very glad to have that opportunity. And I’m so delighted to be here with Dan and Julie. I got to work with Dan when he was in the White House, and it’s wonderful to see him in action here in Israel.

But mostly I wanted to say thank you to all of you for the work that you do every single day here in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv supporting the extraordinarily important ties between the United States and Israel, working with the Palestinian Authority on so many of the issues that are critically important, assisting a huge number of Americans who visit this area, and of course, continuing our commitment as we seek to support a lasting peace. You are working at the forefront of one of our most important and challenging diplomatic efforts. Here in the Consulate General you are assisting with development and security, helping to build the infrastructure for a future Palestinian state. In the Embassy you’re sustaining one of our most important alliances, building the people-to-people connections that are so important to our relationship. And over the last year and a half, you’ve all continued to promote American interests amid the turbulence and unpredictable circumstances of the changes sweeping the region.

Looking at all of you is very reassuring. I read cables. I get reports. But I like seeing you in person. And it’s not just because you handle so many complex issues with great poise and professionalism, but it’s also frankly because this group represents the sort of collaboration across ethnicities and faiths that is so essential in the 21st century. It’s essential to move toward the goals of bringing people together, of finding common ground, and of building a future based on mutual respect and mutual interests.

Now, I’m told that the 4th of July party was a great example of the way that you can bring people together from every walk of life – Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Muslims, Jews, you name it. Everybody was here. And I am very pleased that the diversity of experiences and ideas you bring to work every day is helping us navigate the challenges we face.

I also want to thank the family members who are here. Now, I do love Jerusalem so it’s not like I’m saying that this is a hardship post, because it certainly is challenging but it’s also an extraordinary opportunity. Yet nevertheless I know that you have all to make sacrifices in order to serve in our overseas missions and in one that has as complex an agenda as this does. And you’re not as close to the beach as our mission in Tel Aviv is – (laughter) – so you get the beauty of Jerusalem but without the beach time, so I suppose that’s a fair tradeoff, more or less.

I want to mention one family here today, Vince Romero’s wife Iris and his daughter Annie, who are safe havened here – (applause) – and I love that hat that Annie’s got – while he serves in Kabul with our mission there. I was just there about two weeks ago. And the service that Vince is performing is exceptional, and last week he was named GSO of the Year. So although I know what a sacrifice it is to be separated, we are very grateful to him and to both of you for the service to our country.

And let me say a special word of thanks to our locally employed staff and your families, Israeli and Palestinian alike. You are truly the engine that keeps this mission running. Ambassadors and consuls general and secretaries come and go, but our locally employed staff is here year after year serving as the memory bank and the nerve center of all that we continue to do here and at the Embassy.

So from President Obama and myself, thank you. Thank you for your exemplary service, your commitment, for representing the United States so well. We may not always say it, but we know it, and whenever I get a chance to say it, I try to do so because I want you to hear it: We know what you’re doing and we appreciate it very, very much.

And now let me turn the podium over to Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

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Remarks With Minister of Defense Ehud Barak


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
July 16, 2012


Well, I am always pleased to have a chance to be here in Israel and to continue the conversations you and I have carried on over many years now, when we were both much younger. But you’re right, Ehud, we’re at a time of such historic change, really unprecedented. And we have to work together to face the challenges and to, hopefully, seize some of the opportunities. So I’m looking forward to our discussion and then to the meeting later this evening with the Prime Minister.


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Remarks With Israeli President Shimon Peres Following Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
President’s Residence
July 16, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, my friend. I am delighted once again to be here with you and to have this opportunity to discuss the issues that you have laid out in detail. I always benefit from your advice and counsel, and I have once again today.

I am here in Jerusalem on such a beautiful day at a moment of great change and transformation in the region. It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goal of security, stability, peace, and democracy, along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.

And it is in moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We are called to be smart, creative, and courageous. And no one understands all of this as well as President Shimon Peres. We were so honored to have you in the White House last month. And as President Obama said when he awarded Shimon the Presidential Medal of Freedom, no individual has done so much over so many years to build our alliance between our two countries, to bring not just our government but our people closer together. And few people know better than Shimon the inextricable links between security and peace and all that they require.

So I am very grateful to be back in Jerusalem and to have this chance to speak with the President about what we are doing to meet the challenges and pursue the opportunities presented at this historic time.

I look forward to my other meetings today, where we will continue our in-depth discussions on a broad range of matters, including Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran, other regional and global issues. I’ve already had a chance to discuss those with Foreign Minister Lieberman as well as President Peres. I will have more to say about them and all the work that Israel and the United States are doing together at a press conference this evening after I’ve had a chance to meet with Defense Minister Barak, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and members of his cabinet, along with Prime Minister Fayyad.

And so let me close by congratulating Shimon on your fifth year as president, and recognize another milestone in such a distinguished career. I also want to take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday. I know I’m a little early, but that means I can be the first friend to wish you a very happy birthday. But to say with such great gratitude how much I appreciate you, our friendship, the work we have done together and the work that we will do together in the future.

PRESIDENT PERES: Thank you very much.

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The Jerusalem Post has her on the ground in Jerusalem on the last leg of this marathon trip.  That’s U.S. Ambassador Shapiro and his wife Julie Fisher greeting her. Great work, Mme. Secretary!  We are so proud of you!.

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Clinton arrives from Cairo for 24-hour visit

07/15/2012 23:54

Four issues expected to dominate J’lem talks: Egypt, Iran, the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, and Syria; US secretary of state also slated to meet PA Prime Minister Fayyad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Jerusalem Sunday evening  for a 24-hour visit, arriving in the country even as White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was leaving.

Donilon’s visit, which was veiled in secrecy, was only announced Sunday by the White House in a terse statement that said Donilon visited Israel from July 14-15 for consultations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror

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Well finally the State Department has released details about Mme. Secretary’s current travel itinerary.  Here goes – it is extensive – just under two weeks.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 5, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel departing Washington, D.C. on July 5.

In Paris on July 6, Secretary Clinton will attend the third meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. At that meeting, the Secretary will consult with her colleagues on steps to increase pressure on the Assad regime and to support UN-Arab League Special Envoy Annan’s efforts to end the violence and facilitate a political transition to a post-Assad Syria. Secretary Clinton will consult with French leaders regarding next steps on Syria as well as on a number of other key areas of global concern. As part of her ongoing consultations with senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders, the Secretary will also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss both parties’ efforts to pursue a dialogue and build on President Abbas’ exchange of letters with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Secretary will then travel to Tokyo to attend the July 8 Conference on Afghanistan, where she will reaffirm our enduring commitment to the Afghan people and join the international community in supporting Afghanistan’s development needs for the “transformation decade” to begin in 2015. As part of the mutual commitments made by the international community and Afghanistan at the Bonn conference last December, the Afghan Government in turn will lay out its plan for economic reform and continued steps toward good governance. She will also have discussions with Japanese Government counterparts on bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual concern.

In Ulaanbaatar on July 9, Secretary Clinton will meet with President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Batbold and address the meeting of the Governing Board of the Community of Democracies, as well as an international women’s conference.

In Hanoi on July 10, the Secretary will meet with senior Vietnamese leaders. She will witness the signing of several agreements covering education exchanges and commercial contracts and meet with representatives of U.S. and Vietnamese business communities.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Vientiane on July 11. This groundbreaking visit to Laos marks the first by a Secretary of State in 57 years. The Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and other senior government officials to discuss a variety of bilateral and regional issues, including the Lower Mekong Initiative and ASEAN integration efforts.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Phnom Penh on July 11 to participate in regional conferences, to both chair and attend ministerial events and to participate in bilateral meetings with Cambodian officials. Regional conferences include the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the U.S.-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. Secretary Clinton will co-chair the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial as well as chair the Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting. Secretary Clinton will also participate in bilateral meetings with senior Cambodian leadership. After Phnom Penh, Secretary Clinton will travel to Siem Reap to lead the largest delegation of U.S. business representatives to Cambodia for an ASEAN event at the ‘Commitment to Connectivity – U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum.’ While in Siem Reap, Secretary Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Lower Mekong Initiative Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Dialogue on July 13.

On July 14, Secretary Clinton will travel to Egypt to express the United States’ support for Egypt’s democratic transition and economic development. From July 15-16, she will meet with senior government officials, civil society, and business leaders, and inaugurate the U.S. Consulate General in Alexandria.

This will be followed by a stop in Israel on July 16-17, where she will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern.

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Joint Discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres Hosted by the Brookings Institution


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Hay Adams Hotel
Washington, DC
June 12, 2012

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a very special welcome to the president of the state of Israel Shimon Peres and the Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

MR. INDYK: Please take your seats. Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you very much for joining us. It’s a great pleasure to have you here on the occasion of this event to honor Haim and Cheryl Saban for their support, 10 years of support for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. I’m Martin Indyk, the director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings. One time I had something to do with the Saban Center. And we’re especially appreciative that so many of you who have been involved in the work of the Saban Center over these 10 years are here to join us today.

I especially want to welcome Senator Inouye, Senator Feinstein, Justice Breyer, Chairman Genachowsky, and the Ambassadors of Israel, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates for honoring us with their presence today.

When I asked Haim how he would like to be honored, he first, of course, refused. And then when I said that no was not an option, he said that we should do it in the Brookings Saban Center tradition of an exchange of ideas about the Middle East. “And who would he like us to invite to conduct that exchange,” I asked him. And he answered in a flash, “Shimon and Hillary.” It’s a great testament to their friendship for Haim and Cheryl that they both agreed to join us today, and it’s a great testament to their high reputation and fame that I can say the words “Shimon and Hillary” and everyone will immediately know to whom I am referring, the president of Israel, of course, and the Secretary of State of the United States. Thank you both very much for doing us the honor of joining us today for this conversation.

I’m not going to spend time – our precious time – on introductions, since you know them both so well. But instead, I thought we should go straight to the conversation. I’m not sure what the protocol is. I suspect the president outranks the Secretary. (Laughter.) But since Shimon is such a chivalrous gentleman – he’s known for that amongst his many other good characteristics – that I’m sure he would agree that it should be ladies first. (Laughter.)

So, Madam Secretary, I wanted to start by asking you about Syria, just to go to the heart of the matter. You’ve done an incredible job dealing with the world’s problems, but I suspect the one that at least for the time being is the most vexing one for you is Syria. So tell us, please, what’s your approach, what’s the U.S. strategy for trying to deal with this tremendous brutality that we seem to be witnessing going on there from day to day?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Martin, first let me thank you and Brookings, and particularly the Saban Center and especially Haim and Cheryl, for inviting us to be here. I am the one who is especially delighted and honored to be with a longtime friend and someone whom I don’t think I’m alone in saying I admire so greatly. And I appreciate the chance to talk about some of the issues that we are addressing together. Certainly what happens to Syria matters greatly to the United States, but it matters drastically to Israel. And how we work through the many difficulties that are posed by this unrelenting, brutal crackdown carried out by the Assad regime and their military loyalists will have far-reaching consequences for the region and beyond.

Let me just make three quick points. First, we continue to support Kofi Annan’s efforts, and we do so because he represents both the United Nations and the Arab League. It’s quite unprecedented to have a joint special envoy who is speaking for two organizations that have seen their common interest in trying to bring an end to the violence and help to precipitate and then shepherd through a political transition.

And the six-point plan that former Secretary General Annan laid out is a good plan. Of course, it’s not being implemented. And of course, the contempt and rejection of the first principle of that plan, namely the cessation of violence by the Assad regime, has certainly been a grave assault not only on the lives of the Syrian people but on the international effort intended to bring an end to this ongoing conflict.

Kofi Annan is now trying to put together a group of countries that would include Russia that we agree should be included to work on a roadmap for political transition. Russia has increasingly said that it was not defending Assad, but it worried about what came after Assad, and that it would work on political transition. But there are always a lot of caveats that they then interpose.

So I met with Kofi Annan on Friday. We talked through what his strategy would be and he is working very hard to try to implement it. The redline for us was the inclusion of Iran. We thought that would be a grave error since we know that Iran is not only supporting the Assad regime, but actively mentoring, leading, encouraging not merely the regular army, but the militias that are springing up, engaging in sectarian conflict.

So we have a timeline in mind to see whether or not this effort of Kofi’s can be successful. The outer limit of that is mid-July when the Security Council has to decide whether or not to extend the mission. And certainly, if there is no discernable movement by then, it will be very difficult to extend a mission that is increasingly dangerous for the observers on the ground.

Secondly, I think that the challenge faced by so many, from the near neighbors in the area to those further out, is what one can realistically do to try to bring an end to the violence without seeing an increase in the activities of certain elements of the opposition that could lead to even greater violence and the likelihood of the civil war that we’re all trying to avoid.

So you hear from time to time that the Turks are meeting with certain elements. The Qataris, the Emiratis, the Saudis, others are trying to figure out how to support people who are under the assault of the Syrian regime. And it’s quite challenging to actually deliver on that. Now there are lots of weapons on the black market, there’s money that’s available, there seems to be an increasing capacity in the opposition both to defend themselves and to take the fight to the Syrian military in an irregular way. But there’s no doubt that the onslaught continues, the use of heavy artillery and the like.

We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry; everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That’s patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically. There seems to be a massing of Syrian forces around Aleppo that we’ve gotten information about over the last 24, 48 hours. That could very well be a redline for the Turks in terms of their strategic and national interests, so we’re watching this very carefully.

Finally, I would say that part of the reason why this is complicated in the face of a clear rejection of what the Assad regime is doing is because there is such a fear among many elements of the Syrian society and in the region about what would come next. You haven’t had a wholesale departure, support, or even into exile of a lot of major players in the Syrian society. We are approached on a regular basis by representatives of different groups within Syria who are terrified of what comes next. I don’t know how else to say it.

So how we manage a political transition, assuming we could manage a political transition; how we provide reassurance and some level of protection to Christians, Druze, Alawites, Kurds, Sunni business leaders and the like; how we prevent a massive inflow of refugees across the Jordanian and Turkish borders; how we protect Lebanon from getting caught up in the sectarian divides that afflict them as well as Syria – if these questions had self-apparent and actualizing answers, I would certainly share them with you. But as things stand, this is our constant, painful analysis as to how we can push the Assad regime out – there’s no doubt it needs to go – but create a transition that gives at least some possible reassurance to those who fear what comes next.

So I think with that, I’ll end.

MR. INDYK: Great, thank you.

Mr. President, Syria is, of course, your northern neighbor. The Israeli army is 40 kilometers from Damascus. Your chief of – deputy chief of staff is in the papers in the last two days warning about the danger that Syria’s chemical weapons could get into the wrong hands. How do you see this, and what do you think can be done about it?

PRESIDENT PERES: Thank you very much, Martin. I want to thank very much Cheryl and Haim. With them, I feel at home on matters of peace and in (inaudible) of matters of social justice. I shall have a few words to say about the institute later.

I want to also to say a word or two about Hillary, not because my – only my personal admiration, which is really tremendous, but by the uniqueness of her role. Never before did anybody in history, men or women, traveled thousand of thousands of miles, from place to place, day and night, not because traveling is such a great pleasure but because she has an unprecedented responsibility.

All the previous Secretaries of States – not because of them – were dealing with international relations, which is one thing. Hillary is dealing with global responsibility, which is a totally different thing. When you have had international relations, it’s enough that you go to a capital and that’s it. No more. She has to face people all around the world with unbelievable differences.

Occasionally, the people are leading the government or the government is leading the people. And we live in a world where governments became weak because two of their main instruments were taken away from them: the control of economy and the control of security. Since economy became global, it affects every country, and look, no country can really affect it. So you have a global economy without the global government.

The same with terror. Because security, there is terror. It’s global. It’s wild. It doesn’t have a law. It doesn’t have an address. And again, there is no government that controls it.

So Hillary is trying, really, to fill the gap by creating alliances, by trying to have common basis, by being passionate. And the Administration wasn’t built to handle it. So you have to penetrate an entirely new experience. Saying it, I believe in the Middle East we have to think about two tracks, not one: the present, which is transitional; and the future, which is permanent. I don’t have the slightest doubt that finally the Arabs will (inaudible) the new age. They don’t have a choice, as none of us has a choice.

But in between we have a transitional situation, which is not the same for all countries but different for every country. The Russians have had a Stakhanovich, a man that works a lot. So one of the doctors of (inaudible) came in the hospital and tell the nurses, “My girls, I’m so much in a hurry. Give me the average temperature of the sick people.” (Laughter.) Well, there is no average temperature in the Middle East. (Laughter.)

So you have to have every situation to deal separately, now with Syria. I think in Syria two unprecedented things. First of all, the bravery of the Syrian people, which in my eyes is admirable and unbelievable. People are facing fire every day, a dictator that kills children. For me, the most shocking photo is to see a small coffin and a dead child in it. I can’t stand it. People are reluctant to say, “Well, if Assad will go, we don’t have an alternative.” My answer: Assad stopped to be an alternative. Even if there is no alternative, he’s neither an alternative.

So this is the first time that I really want to express my admiration for an Arab attempt to fight for their own freedom. It’s admirable, and I wish them success.

The second point, which is unprecedented, is that the Arab League took on responsibility against an Arab country. And as Hillary has mentioned already, it’s a joint venture between the United Nations and the Arab League. I would say, gentlemen, you send observers. Now you know the situation. What is your proposal? You don’t want anybody else to intervene because this will be foreign intervention. Okay, do it yourself and the United Nations will support you. Better that the Arabs will do it, particularly when Syria is a very complex case.

You have the (inaudible) and the Shiites and the Kurds. It’s either a dictator that will force them to be together or a confederation that will make them agree. Let the Arabs do it. They are ready. Let them take responsibility. Let’s not accuse anybody that we are intervening. Let’s us support them in any way we can, clearly humanitarian. I don’t speak about Israel. I’m not sure that they would like that very well. We would like to help – not by arms, but by foot, by support, by voting, and by morale. And I think right now this should be the decision.

The leaders of the world, and what can Russians do? The Russians will be finally accused of intervening. They may be admired in Syria, but they are creating a great deal of opposition in the rest of the Arab world. So no single country can do it without being accused. The Arab League should and can do it. And if you ask for my advice, this should be the right policy.

MR. INDYK: Thank you. Shimon, just following on from that, I wonder if we can shift to the Palestinian issue for a moment? Here, we say that the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians is unsustainable. But out there, where you live, it looks from day to day like Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, even Hamas and Gaza, all of them seem to be satisfied with the status quo, at least for the time being. So in your view, is the status quo sustainable?

PRESIDENT PERES: I don’t think there is a status quo. I think there are two. They’re the same movement. Once I think Henry Kissinger said that in Israel the foreign affairs is an extension of the domestic situation. Now I can say about the rest of the world that the domestic situation is the result of the outside world. We cannot separate ourselves on the global world from the changes in Egypt, the changes around the world. It’s moving. It’s moving.

And I think even – between us and the Palestinians now, some positive moves. For example, I would outline two. One is that the economic development – because in order to make peace, you have to build a nation, and the Palestinians started to build a nation with the American help, with the Israeli support and agreement. Secondly, the Palestinians have never had a force of their own. And I wouldn’t like to generalize, but in the Middle Eastern terms, you don’t have real parties – you have real forces.

Abu Mazen Abbas didn’t have a force. Now, for the first time, he has a force, fifteen thousand youngsters that were trained by you, that are loyal to him. They clearly wouldn’t like that Hamas will command them. And I think that Abbas is a serious man. I know him for a long time. Actually, he and myself signed agreement here on the White lawn –

MR. INDYK: Just over there. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT PERES: Yes. And clearly we miss (inaudible). And it was presided by Bill Clinton. I shall not forget it. At 19 years past since then, I wished it would be faster. But you know, you cannot make a baby become a boy in a short while, and a boy become a grownup personage. There is age. It takes time. But it’s growing.

I think now it is the time to make peace with the Palestinians. The Israeli Government has a wider base. The Palestinians understand that not everything which was happening in the Arab Spring is necessarily bringing them time, because one of the important thing about the Arab Spring is the Arab youngsters understand that their situation is not a result of the conflict between us and the Palestinians. They know that reform begins at home. What’s happening in Syria has nothing to do with Israel. What happened in Tunisia has nothing to do with Israel, or Libya. And I think we should let the Arabs reform their lives and stop using the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an excuse.

Now, elections are important, and I think – I believe the youngsters in the Middle East achieved doing things, important things. They brought an end to dictatorship after the uprise of the youngsters. I don’t recommend anybody who seeks a guaranteed job to be a dictator in the Middle East. It’s over. (Laughter.) It became totally uncomfortable.

Then there was a (inaudible) people to go to the elections, but they made one mistake. They didn’t prepare themselves for the elections. Now, whoever will be elected, even if he’ll have a majority, if he doesn’t have a solution for the economic problems of Egypt, the elections don’t mean much. If they don’t have a solution for the security of Egypt, elections doesn’t mean much. And I would just say to people that I know in Egypt don’t forget for a moment that 60 percent of the population are young people. The future is theirs, and they are sick and tired. They don’t want to remain poor. They are not ready to accept corruption. They want freedom. Many of them opened their eyes in Tunisia. I watched that many of the demonstrators were young ladies who are sick and tired of being discriminated.

And by the way, if you discriminate women, you discriminate your people, because you allow only half of the people to participate in building the nation. But if the women doesn’t have a chance to be educated, the children are uneducated; they don’t give a future to the children. Forty-one percent of the Egyptians are illiterate. And for that you don’t need money. You really have to reform at home. And believe me, I wish and I pray that the young people will succeed, not because of us, because of them. They better they will have it, the better we shall have it.

MR. INDYK: It sounded for a moment like Shimon was channeling Hillary. (Laughter.) So do you want to pick up on the women’s issue in the Arab Spring and your view of how things are going for the women in this process?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s too soon to tell. I think Shimon is right that we have a transition that we’re going through to get to whatever future there will be. And it’s not going to happen quickly and it’s going to have, I would expect, some bumps in the road and difficulties along the way. But I believe that one of the important indicators as to how the whole process of democratization, political reform, economic reform is going is the way that the newly formed governments and their allies in the various countries treat women.

And to that end, there is both – there is mixed news. There is some positive news in that there are certain guarantees being put forth about women’s rights and opportunities, but there are some worrying actions that certainly don’t match those guarantees. And I think that raises the larger issue, because Shimon is right that democracy has to deliver. I mean, a lot of what was behind the revolutions of the Middle East and North Africa was economic aspirations that were not being met, outrage at corruption, the difficulty of doing business, the doors that would slam in one’s face, the absence of jobs even if you were an educated young person.

So there has to be a level of economic returns for people’s leap of faith and investment in a democratic future, and that is going to be extremely hard. Every one of the countries that is making these changes has a lot of work to do to open up their economy, to go after corruption and the like. At the same time, the political reforms that are occurring and the commitment to democracy, albeit unformed and quite not – I guess quite not yet clear in the minds of leaders or citizens – is raising a lot of issues. Because for us, democracy is not one election, one time. We’re not sure exactly how others see this democratic enterprise that they have signed onto, because democracy is about building institutions. It’s about extending rights to everyone, protecting rights of minorities, ensuring that people are equal under the law, requiring independent judiciary, free press, and all the rest.

So it’s not just what happens to women, although we will keep a very close watch on what is happening to women. It is what is happening to the democratic experiment. And what we’re trying to do is encourage the countries that are pursuing this to keep reaching out, learning from the experiences of others, most recently the post-Soviet nations but also Latin America. We come with a long 236-year experiment. And people in the region may or may not think that we’re a relevant example, but we’ve encouraged a lot of outreach to countries that threw off military dictatorships, totalitarian regimes, and to find common cause with their experience.

And I think we also have to have a certain level of both humility and patience. We have to call out, at any turn, developments that we think endanger the democratic enterprise: the consolidation of power, authoritarian tendencies, and the like. But we also have to recognize that we didn’t have a straight line. There were a lot of changes that we had to do as we moved toward a more perfect union. We didn’t include everybody in the first run. We excluded women, among others. We had to fight a civil war to extend citizenship to former slaves.

I mean, we have to be honest enough to recognize that time has sped up. And to some extent, the work that has to be done in building these new democracies is much harder today than it was even after the Berlin Wall fell. I mean, every single move is now scrutinized, spread around the world through social media. It’s really hard. So even if the people involved are coming at it with the best of intentions, good faith, they’re going to face a lot of setbacks and challenges to their decision making and other problems that will make what they’re attempting to do in the economic and political realms very difficult.

So women are the canaries in the mine, as many have said before, in these societies – in many societies. How they’re treated, whether they’re included, will tell us a lot about what we can expect from the democratic movements that are ongoing. But I think we have to do all we can to support the right tendencies and decisions in order to get the right outcome.

MR. INDYK: Thank you. Mr. President, if we can shift to Iran.

PRESIDENT PERES: I want to say well, about the women, I won’t give up easily. See, I’m a gentleman, so I’m more optimistic than Hillary about women. President Obama asked me, “Who is against democracy in the Middle East?” I told him, “The husbands.” (Laughter.) They don’t want to share with the women equal rights. So why I’m becoming optimistic? Doesn’t (inaudible). My optimism stems from a different point.

Today, the children are on the side of their fathers, not on the side of their mothers. And that is my hope. They understand that if they want reform, really, their country, and many of them went to the universities, and are equipped with modern communication, they won’t give up.

The world democracy is a little bit complicated because some people think democracy is another religion. So you have to convert from being a Muslim to be a democrat. Well, it’s not the case because Islam is a spiritual position, not a economic doctrine. And for that reason, I am a little bit even more optimistic than you are. And I think one should watch the combination of the women and the youngsters. And the fathers may find themself all of a sudden in troubles. They won’t take it, they will boss the future. So that is my note of optimism. (Laughter.)

MR. INDYK: Thank you, fabulous. You do the question about Iran then.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, no, that – (laughter) – no use in (inaudible). (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT PERES: No, here I am not just a gentleman. (Laughter.)

MR. INDYK: All right. Shimon —


MR. INDYK: In – Iran. In 1981, you recall that you were opposed to the use of – in 1981, you were opposed to the use of preventive force against Iraq’s nuclear program. And I wonder, when you look back on that, what were you thinking about that at the time? What was your reason for opposition?

PRESIDENT PERES: Let’s not talk about Iran without patience, ability, strength, and cool, and say Iran, the Iranians are not our enemies. In history, we have many very friendly relations, and now very dangerous. So I’m asking ourself, why are we really against Iran? Is it just because of nuclear bomb? Not only.

What revolts the world against Iran is that in the 21st century, the Iranian leaders, not the Iranian people, are the only one that wants to renew imperialism – we can’t accept it – in the name of religion. From that, it started. That’s the reason why many Arabs are against not Iran, but the Iranian hegemony. The Iranians don’t say the hegemony should be Arabic, because they’re not Arabs. So they want to say it Muslim, because they’re Muslims.

And we see the way they want to construct an empire – by terror, by sending money, sending arms, hanging, bluffing. We cannot support it. The world cannot support it, whether you are a Russian – I am speaking in – with Putin and Medvedev to say we cannot support a nuclear Iran. Now, if Iran will win, the whole Middle East will become the victim. Actually, the world economy will become the victim, because the way they rule is without any regard to anybody else. And this is the first problem. We cannot allow it to happen – all of us.

The second thing is the ways they do. It’s against a return to the Machiavellian formula that the goals justify the means. So you can kill, you can lie, you can murder, you can collect arms. My God, we are over it. We cannot return to it. It’s a human problem. The globe is already so complicated. It doesn’t govern without the government in economic terms. And this is a terrible alternative. And I’m afraid that some countries may take advantage if the Iranians will ruin the situation in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, and they won’t stop. They will go further, wherever there is a drop of oil, wherever there is a chance of gaining anything.

We can’t agree with it. And that is why the nuclear weapons became so dangerous, because they serve a purpose and nobody can guarantee that they will restrain. And it’s governed by a single man who nominated himself as a deputy of Mohammed, my God. And where such a complete holiness arrives, reason stops, prediction stops.

And it’s a situation that I am not aware of anybody that threatens Iran, that wants to oppress Iran or govern Iran or reduce Iran, nothing whatsoever. Iran could have flourished without it. They have oil. They have a large country. They have an old culture. Who is against Iran? We’re against a policy that endangers our age. And unfortunately, they use the time – I can understand exactly the United States of America. It can say well, the United States, why did you do this, why did you do that, (inaudible), but Iran cannot take away from United States one thing: the character of their history. There is no trace of imperialism in American character.

Yesterday, I’ve been at the headquarters of your army. I told them you’re the only army that doesn’t fight to conquer or to occupy but fights for freedom and peace, not only for America, for the rest of the world. Historically speaking, the Americans are fighting for values, no matter if you do this or you do that. So you cannot be caring of the rest of the world and indifferent to Iran. And the Iranians are speeding up. They are taking the American process of democracy and making the wrong use of it.

So I believe that President Obama represents the deepest assumptions and concepts of the American history. It’s above politics. It’s above everything else. I think the reasons are profound and serious and urgent because they may reach a point of no return. Then it is too late. So the President said rightly I want to try with nonmilitary means, which is typically American, rightly so. But America understands if this will be the only option, the Iranians will laugh at them, say okay, the sanctions won’t act, and then she’ll be free. Then they said – the Americans are saying there are other options on the table, please don’t forget it. And we are aware of the time element as well.

So this is the way really I look at it. I don’t take it as a personal whim or as a personal ambition. Clearly we are more sensitive than others because when nobody threatens Iran, Iran threatens us. What did we do to them? We are the only country which is being threatened to be destroyed by them. But I don’t suggest that this is the only reason that makes us more sensitive. But it doesn’t reduce the great and major danger that we are facing.

MR. INDYK: Madam Secretary, maybe you can tell us how it’s going with the negotiations after an initial sense of optimism with the IAEA as well. Both tracks, both the IAEA and the negotiations have taken place in Baghdad. There’s a sense that not much progress is being made. Is that an accurate perception?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the point of the negotiations is to do exactly what Shimon said, which we have been consistent in pursuing since the beginning of the Obama Administration, to have a credible pressure track that united the entire world. That was not the case when President Obama took office, and it now is. It’s quite remarkable that not only the international community in general but the P-5+1 and, most particularly, China and Russia have remained as committed and forceful in the diplomatic negotiations with Iran over the nuclear program.

There will be, as you know, meetings in Moscow starting next week, over the weekend. And there is a unified position being presented by the P-5+1 that gives Iran, if it is interested in taking a diplomatic way out, a very clear path that would be verifiable and would be linked to action for action, which has been the approach that we’ve advocated and that has been agreed upon.

I can’t, sitting here today, tell you what the Iranians will or won’t do, but I am quite certain that they are under tremendous pressure from the Russians and the Chinese to come to Moscow prepared to respond. Now, whether that response is adequate or not, we will have to judge. They, for about the last 10 days, have been pushing to get a so-called experts meeting, pushing to try to even postpone Moscow in the absence of such meeting. And there was not a single blink by any of the negotiators. And then, as you saw in the news, there was a statement that yes, the Iranians would show up. My counterpart from Russia, Sergey Lavrov, is either there or on his way there.

And the Russians have made it very clear that they expect the Iranians to advance the discussion in Moscow, not to just come, listen, and leave. We’ll know once it happens. But I think that the unity and the resolve that has been shown thus far is of real significance, because clearly the threats that Shimon outlined are very real. The continuing effort by the Iranians to extend their influence and to use terror as a tool to do so extends to our hemisphere and all the way to East Asia. So the threat is real. We’re dealing with a regime that has hegemonic ambitions. Those who live in the near neighborhood are well aware of that, trying to manage it, and avoid the Iranians’ ability to score points and create more islands of influence is one of the great challenges that we are coping with.

But I just want to end with a story that I brought back from Georgia last week. I was in Batumi, which my friend, Strobe Talbott knows well, which is being turned into a kind of mini Las Vegas on the Black Sea – lots of casinos, big hotels, all kinds of public art. And I was talking to one of the municipal officials, and I said, “Well, what kind of tourist season are you expecting?” He said, “We think we’re going to have a huge tourist influx.” I said, “So who are most of your tourists? Where do they come from?” He said, “Well, we have a lot of Turks and we have a lot of Russians and we have a lot of Iranians and we have a lot of Israelis.” I said, “Oh, how’s that all work?” (Laughter.) And he says, “Well, I’ll tell you,” he said, “if you go to the discos late at night, the two kinds of people that are left are the Iranians and the Israelis.” (Laughter and applause.)

And shortly after hearing that story, I walked into a public building in Batumi, which is one of President Saakashvili’s very creative and impressive advancements, where truly it’s one-stop shopping. You go into one public building; you can get a marriage license, a work license, a passport. It’s quite remarkable. So I was wandering around, being shown this modern technological wonder. And I walked into the visa section, and these three men came running up to me and they said, “We love you, we love you. We’re from Iran.” And I said, “Oh well, we’re trying to get along with you.” “Oh, we like you. The people like you.”

Now, who knows? (Laughter.) But I think that – I think that the larger point in Shimon’s very eloquent and, as usual, compelling description is that there continues to be this disconnect between the people of Iran, which is a much more diverse society than most of us understand or know how to deal with, and this leadership, which is becoming more and more rigid, more of a military dictatorship, if you will. And so there is a lot happening inside Iran, and keeping this pressure on, keeping the sanctions on, keeping the world united against this nuclear threat and what it represents to this regime, remains our highest priority. So we’re pushing forward on it, and we’ll see what comes out of Moscow.

MR. INDYK: Unfortunately, the time has come when we have to conclude. And you’ve been both very generous with your ideas and analysis and time.

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Remarks With Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Before Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to welcome a longtime friend and colleague back here to Washington and, in particular, the State Department. We have a constant consultation between the Government of the United States and the Government of Israel on a full range of important issues. And I look forward to having this opportunity to do one of these reviews with Minister Barak, and I am delighted that you are here, sir.

DEFENSE MINISTER BARAK: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here once again and to have an opportunity to discuss Middle Eastern issues with the Secretary (inaudible). And we are highly appreciative of the approach of this Administration, of the Secretary, of Secretary of Defense, and of course of the President, in regard to the security of Israel, making sure that in our tough neighborhood, Israel will be strong and secure. And I hope, of course, that the new developments will lead into new opportunities to move forward, not just on security but also on the highly important issue of trying to find a way to have a breakthrough in the political process towards peace.

Thank you very much.


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