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Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

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

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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….

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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.”

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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Today, after shuttling from Israel to Ramallah to Egypt conversing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,  Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brokered a Middle East cease fire that officially went into effect at 2 p.m. EST today.  In a courageous ascent to a  leadership position,  Egypt is sponsoring the cease-fire.  The encouraging news is being reported by all major news sources.

Here are some photos from her busy day of shuttle-diplomacy.

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God bless you, Mme. Secretary.  Now come home for Thanksgiving.   We are all thankful for your dedicated service.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) talks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu before their meeting November 11, 2010 in New York. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to find a "way forward" on the stalled Middle East peace process as she began a crunch meeting Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Loews Regency Hotel
New York City
September 21, 2011

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you able to give the press a readout of your meeting just now with President Obama (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s being done through the White House, so I’ll let them give the readout.

QUESTION: Was any progress made on suspending this bid for statehood on Friday?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think I’ll let the White House give the readout.

QUESTION: Would you like to give the press any reaction to the hikers being released?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would like to say how pleased, relieved, and grateful I am that these two young men are finally out of an Iranian prison, where they never should have been in the first place. And I am not going to say any more because they have a chance now to reuinte with their families and to decompress from what has been a terrible experience for them. And I’m looking forward to seeing them when they return home.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, why won’t you freeze the settlements if that’s one way to get back to talks?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, I did, as you know, and did something that no previous Israeli government did. I actually froze any construction for ten months, waited nine months and one week; the Palestinians finally came and said, well, keep on freezing. So I think wisely – and we concluded with the United States – that what we really have to do is get on with the real issues and get down and negotiate all these issues in order to get peace. We have to negotiate the issues to resolve them. We can’t just negotiate about the negotiations.

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Bombing in Jerusalem

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 23, 2011

This morning I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the bombing in Jerusalem today that took at least one life and injured innocent civilians. Terrorism and the targeting of civilians are never justified. And Israel, like all nations, of course, has to respond when this occurs. The United States is committed to Israel’s security and we strongly condemn this violence and extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected.

We also strongly condemn recent rocket attacks from Gaza against innocent Israeli civilians and hold fully responsible the militants perpetrating these attacks. And I join President Obama in extending our sincere condolences to the friends and families of the Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza yesterday and appreciate that Israel has expressed regret.

We stress the importance of calm and we urge all concerned to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties among both Israelis and Palestinians. Violence only erodes hope for a lasting and meaningful peace and the final realization of two states for two peoples.

 

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On a slow Hillary-Saturday, and I cannot think of a Hillary-Saturday more deserving to be slow than this one following her longest trip topped off by her marathon meeting on Thursday with Benjamin Netanyahu,  the question is what to post.  Well, it is not much of a question since clearly a lengthy meeting is likely to have an equally long wake.

Depending on whom you listen to, the meeting yielded more of the same (my original take) or perhaps some kind of a breakthrough.  I found these articles offering  different but not necessarily conflicting views on the exhaustive and exhausting meeting between Secretary Clinton and PM Netanyahu in NYC on Thursday.  The Zogby item, the more pessimistic of the two, offers historical depth.  The Rogin article tends to be more predictive.  All emphasis and editing are mine.

James Zogby, on Huffington Post,  speaks to anybody who thinks Obama is soft on Islam as well as to  the fundamentalist Christian types who want all of Jerusalem for Israel.   The settlement Zogby refers to extends to Bethlehem  where it is largely Christian Arabs who have been displaced.  Every time Middle East issues intensify as we approach the holidays, I think of how often I hear “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and how removed we are as a people from the fact that the descendants of the little shepherds who made their way to the manger that first Christmas night are among the displaced … from lands their stock had grazed for millennia.

He  offers an instructive chronology of the Har Homa settlement dating back more than 15 years to when, in his words, it was “Jabal Abul Ghnaim was a lovely green hill on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem.”    The strategy involved is clear.   Keep building and expanding around Jerusalem until no Palestinian land claim is possible.

James Zogby

President of the Arab American Institute, Author of “Arab Voices” (Palgrave Macmillan 10/10)

Posted: November 13, 2010 10:24 AM

Israel’s announcement, last week, of a radical expansion of Har Homa (an already massive settlement community between Jerusalem and Bethlehem) makes a mockery of the so-called “peace process”.

The episode has further served to reinforce the belief that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no interest in reaching a just peace with the Palestinians. This leopard has not changed his spots. Netanyahu remains a wily (and not always honest) manipulator, who at his core is a hard-line ideologue. At the same time, the Har Homa announcement serves as an uncomfortable reminder of U.S. impotence and the role this weakness has historically played in enabling Israel’s bad behavior.

Read the article>>>>

Secretary Clinton,  under the umbrella of Obama administration policy and therefore tied to the mantra of agreed land swaps,  comes out short on praise by Zogby, and at face values, the joint statement issued by her and Netanyahu appeared anticlimactic enough to me when I posted it on Thursday.

At the time, I had the impression that Mme. Secretary had labored unrelenting for all of those hours only to emerge with the same old positions in place, but perhaps not so!   Josh Rogin at The Cable offers what he dubs an inside glimpse at the substance and outcomes the meeting produced.

Inside the seven-hour Clinton-Netanyahu marathon meeting

Posted By Josh Rogin Friday, November 12, 2010 – 6:55 PM

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s seven-hour marathon meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday in New York could signal a turning point in the effort to revive the stalled Middle East peace talks, as the administration works to resolve the dispute over Israeli settlement building by turning the focus to borders and security.

The Obama administration’s latest strategy seems to have two main elements, according to a senior official’s read out of the meeting and analysis by current and former officials on both sides.  First, the Obama administration is offering Netanyahu as many security guarantees as possible in order to give the Israeli government increased confidence to move to a discussion of the borders that would delineate the two future states. Second, the administration wants to work toward an understanding on borders so that both sides can know where they can and can’t build for the duration of the peace process.

“If there in fact is progress in the next several months, I’m confident people will look back at this meeting between Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu as the foundation of the progress. It was that important,” former Congressman Robert Wexler, now the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, told The Cable.

SNIP

Wexler said that by virtue of the fact that the meeting was seven hours, it’s reasonable to assume that significant progress was made. “I think we’re very close to creating that magic formula that satisfies both the Israelis and the Palestinians to come back to the table.”

The head of the PLO mission in Washington, Maen Rashid Areikat, wasn’t so sure. He pointed to the boilerplate statement that Clinton and Netanyahu issued after the meeting as evidence that no real breakthrough was achieved.

SNIP

But Areikat endorsed the idea of discussing borders ahead of the settlements issue, saying that’s what the Palestinian side has been advocating all along.

I am in no way call a Mid-East buff who knows all sorts of nuances. The conflicts there have been going on my whole life, however, and if our hard-working Secretary of State has managed to open-sesame the magic door, I will be joyful.  Maybe this Christmas I will not feel so jaded even if settlements encroach on Bethlehem.  Perhaps people who have been pushed and shoved around can begin to have some hope of a permanent place and a nation.  Maybe, maybe there can be peace. If it comes on the wings of a beautiful archangel with long blonde hair, all the better. I always thought she could do it.

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Different sources have it at different durations, but by any measure, this was a whopper of a “crunch meeting.”  They began the day looking fresh and beaming.

Mme. Secretary joked about the “million pictures of us doing the handshake.”   One wonders how they appeared emerging after the second marathon to be run in NYC inside of a single week.  How many water bottles?

The Jerusalem Post has it at seven plus hours.

Netanyahu, Clinton meeting ends after 7 hours

By HILARY KRIEGER, TOVAH LAZAROFF JORDANA HORN 11/12/2010 01:08

Marathon bid held to find path to new peace talks; US Secretary of State calls the prime minister a “peacemaker”; Israeli officials call meetings “very serious,” say “everything is on the table.”

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NEW YORK – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held talks that were “friendly and productive” and stressed the importance of continuing direct negotiations in pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, according to a joint statement put out by the two governments Thursday evening.

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Laura Rozen at Politico has it a little shorter.

Clinton-Bibi hold marathon six hour meeting

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for almost six hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Regency Hotel in New York today.

Following their marathon meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office and State Department sent out a joint statement, describing “good discussions” that involved “a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides.”

Read the article>>>>

 

Here is the joint statement as released moments ago by the State Department.

Joint Statement of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel and The Office of the Secretary of State of The United States

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 11, 2010

 


 

Begin Text

‪‪Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton had a good discussion today, with a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides. Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States’ unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.

‪‪The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.

‪‪‪The discussions between the Prime Minister and the Secretary focused on creating the conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations aimed at producing a two-state solution. Their teams will work closely together in the coming days toward that end.

 

Well, that does not tell us anything that we have not seen before.  One thing we can surmise is that this was a tough meeting and all the issues were on the table.  Beyond that, we cannot really guess.  Given Mme. Secretary’s meeting yesterday with Egyptian FM Gheit and her teleconference with Palestinian PM Fayyad, points of view from those parties were surely represented.  We can only hope that reason will prevail in the best interests of everyone involved.

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