Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State


Palestinian Presidential Compound
September 16, 2010

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) I warmly welcome Secretary Clinton to Ramallah today and I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts she is exerting, and also President Obama is exerting the American Administration in order to achieve peace in the region. I know that these are difficult times, circumstances are difficult, but unwavering American commitments and the tireless efforts give us hope that we will reach peace. We all know that there is no alternative to peace other than negotiating peace, so we have no alternative but to continue peace efforts.
I would like to introduce Secretary Clinton (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for not only receiving me here again in Ramallah with such warmth among now friends, but for your leadership and your commitment to peace for the Palestinian people. And as President Abbas said, the United States and all of us, led by President Obama, are very committed and determined to work toward a peace agreement through direct negotiations that leads to an independent, sovereign, viable Palestinian state that realizes the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Thank you, Mr. President.
PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible) handshake, Madam Secretary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh. (Laughter.) Just like you were saying that you’d seen previous footage of Senator Mitchell in Damascus.
SECRETARY CLINTON: They could just bring out one of the hundreds of pictures of you and I shaking hands. (Laughter.)
Thank you.

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Right on the heels of that very positive report yesterday by Claire Shipman, comes yet another noteworthy Op Ed, this one In Middle East Peace Talks, Clinton Faces a Crucial Test by Mark Landler in today’s New York Times.  Turning to a variety of sources, Landler provides a thorough and circumspect outline of how the current process came to be as well as some opinions as to the outcome.  Here is the paragraph that caught my attention.

“One of the best indications that this could succeed is that Hillary Clinton is willing to get involved,” said Stephen J. Hadley, who served as national security advisor to President George W. Bush. “Because that makes me think two things: She thinks it’s possible and, because she is as skilled as she is, it increases the likelihood of success.”
Read the whole article here>>>>

The emphasis is mine, and I am very mindful of the source, a Bush administration veteran who appears to have a great deal of respect for our current Secretary of State.  My CNN news feed which, for some reason, feeds very old stories, is sending up headers from last June and July when she broke her elbow and everyone was asking if she was in the shadows, on the back bench, or home recuperating (one story accurately had her working at home the few days she did not go to the office).  What a difference a year makes!

Some of us always saw how she captured all the light, others are beginning to notice.  Hillary Clinton shines.  She can’t help it.  She’s brilliant.

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**UPDATED 09/13/2010** The video just became available, so I am posting it here.

Interview With Amira Hanania Rishmawi of Palestine TV and Udi Segal of Israel Channel 2

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 3, 2010

Date: 09/03/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton participates in a joint interview with Udi Segal of Israeli Channel 2 and Amirah Hanania Rishmawi of Palestine TV at the Department of State on Friday, September 3, 2010. - State Dept ImageQUESTION: Madam Secretary, Shalom, and thank you for this unique opportunity with my colleague, Amira Hanania.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Your Excellency, for this interview. We’re taking your – from your time to send some messages, very important messages, to our people. I want to start directly, because I know your time is tight. I will start in asking, this Administration repeats that the Palestinian state is a strategic American interest. Is this become slogan for varied and concrete policies and steps to be taken from your side? Touch on that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: First, thank you both for giving me this opportunity not only to talk to you, but through you to Israeli and Palestinian citizens. And I thank you for that.
The United States believes very strongly, and we are totally committed to working with and supporting the efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and people to achieve a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel living side by side. That has been a personal commitment of mine going back many years, and I believe first and foremost it is in the interests of the people of Israel and of the Palestinians, and particularly of the children.
But it is also an interest of the United States. We strongly support the security and the future of Israel and we strongly support the aspirations of the Palestinian people. The only way, in our opinion, in the 21st century, that you can have the kind of security and peace that gives you a chance for the future that each of your people deserve is through a settlement of all of the outstanding issues and an end to the conflict.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said it yourself yesterday, both sides are so disappointed. What makes this attempt different? Why are the odds – this time it’s for us rather than against us?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a great question, because I know of the skepticism and even the suspicion in the minds and hearts of people in the region. And I said yesterday I’m personally disappointed. I have not only supported the efforts that have come before, but was deeply involved in the support of what my husband tried to do in the 1990s. And I think I’m the first person ever associated with an American administration who called for a Palestinian state as a way to realize the two-state solution.
Why is it different? I think it’s different for three reasons. First, I think that time is not on the side of either Israeli or Palestinian aspirations for security, peace, and a state. It’s not because – there are so many changes in the region where the rejectionist ideology and the commitment to violence that some unfortunately have as we recently saw with the terrible killings in Hebron and the attack outside of Ramallah. They gained greater access to weapons. They have a sponsor, namely Iran, who is very much behind a lot of what they’re doing. The technology is threatening to the stability of both peoples’ lives.
I mean, if you look at the economies that are now growing, much of the world is still coming out of a recession. In the Palestinian business community, in Israel, you have vibrant, growing economies that are making a difference. In Nablus, last year, unemployment was 30 percent; it’s down to 12 percent. It’s clear to me that the forces of growth and positive energy are in a conflict with the forces of destruction and negativity. And the United States wants to weigh in on the side of leaders and people who see this as maybe the last chance for a very long time to resolve this.
Now, I will be the first to tell you it is very difficult. I cannot change history. I cannot take an eraser to the history books and change everything that has happened between you for so many years. But what we can do is offer a different future. But then it takes courage to accept that, because it is a bit of a leap of faith. That’s why I was very impressed that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas came here despite the skepticism.
QUESTION: Okay. So Your Excellency, public in the region — consider that Prime Minister Netanyahu came here for a public relationship – relations exercises. What are you going to do at the end of this month if he will not – if he wants to combine between settlement and these public relationship? The end of the month is going to be the last date for that sort of moratorium before the settlement. What are you going to do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that I have known Prime Minister Netanyahu for many years, and I am convinced that he understands and accepts the importance of achieving a two-state solution. He publicly committed to that, something he had not done before, and he negotiated with the Palestinians in the past. He and President Abbas know each other. They have, in my presence, been very clear that they want to work extremely hard to get to a final agreement.
We’re well aware that there are issues that have to be dealt with, such as the one you referred to, at the end of the month. I’m not going to get into their discussions, because that really is at the core of their being able to make some tough decisions, being able to have the confidence that they can have sensitive discussions without me or anybody else talking about them. But I am absolutely convinced that these two men, for different reasons, maybe the two can actually do this.
Everyone knows that in order for Israelis to accept a two-state solution, they have to believe – and I support this with all my heart – that they will be more secure, not less secure. And from their perspective, and one of the reasons for the skepticism in Israel, is we pulled out of Lebanon, we got Hezbollah, we pulled out of Gaza, we got Hamas. So there’s a reality to it. It’s not just a kind of public relations or theoretical argument. I think with President Abbas, he was courageous in the times when he was alone in the Palestinian leadership, in the PLO, in Fatah. He’s been calling for a two-state solution for decades and has given his whole life to trying to realize that. And he knows that this may be the last time.
So I really am convinced that we have obstacles, we have some looming challenges in terms of time. But I believe that both men came with the best of intentions. And now, we have to work hard to overcome those obstacles.
QUESTION: President Abbas said clearly that if settlement freeze does not continue, there will be a – come to a screeching halt in negotiation. What do you – do you agree to that? What do you make of that saying of President Abbas?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Udi, I think part of what we are doing here is creating an atmosphere that is conducive to a final agreement that rests on tough decisions. And the parties know that the goal here is to make the decisions within a framework agreement on all the core issues, all the difficult core issues. And clearly, territory, settlements, borders, security, those are the hardest of the core issues in my opinion.
QUESTION: Refugees?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They have to – and absolutely, Jerusalem, refugees, water, I mean, there’s a whole list of the hard internal core decisions. And I think that dealing with all of them – not in a piecemeal way, but in a comprehensive way, because each side is going to have to make concessions, each side is going to have to make tradeoffs. I’ve never been in a negotiation where one side got everything, because that’s not what happens in negotiations. So I understand the positions of both leaders and I think they are sincere about trying to work to get to a resolution of the outstanding problems, including the one that is looming at the end of the month.
QUESTION: Your Excellency, some people in the region say that peace talks are intended to appease Arabs or the Arabs before some kind of military action against Iran. Is there any truth of that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, and I think that’s a very important question, because we have great concerns about Iran. And it’s not only about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons; it’s about Iran’s sponsorship of terror and its supply of weapons to groups that are trying to destabilize countries and societies. So that’s a given. And that concern, as you know, is shared by much of the Arab world, because they see in their own countries the results of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism.
But the Arab Peace Initiative that was led by the Saudis and by King Abdullah, which said, “Here is an outline for how we would like to have peace with Israel,” has been embraced by Arab and Muslim countries, as you know. That had nothing to do with Iran. That was an expression of the recognition by Arab leaders that this conflict needs to be resolved, and it needs to finally result in a two-state solution, because there’s so much to be gained in the region, turning the attention to what could be done together on all these difficult issues that are looming over the region, like water and dealing with terrorism and the like.
So I think that Iran is a serious problem. I’m the first to tell you that. It’s a problem not just for the United States. It’s a problem for the entire region, because more than anyone, you see the results. I mean, Hamas is not only attacking Israelis; Hamas has been brutal to the people in Gaza in so many ways over the last years.
So let’s recognize that we have a lot of problems we have to deal with. My goal has been to try to tackle each problem and to say, “What can we do to make progress?” There are connections, but on their own, getting to a two-state solution is so much in the interests of the entire region.
QUESTION: I want to follow up Amira’s question. Isn’t – we are witnessing a simple deal here, “We, the United States will dismantle of Iran nuclear weapons, and in return, you, the Israeli and Palestinians, finally will establish a Palestinian state”?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that there are some who make that case. I mean, I make the case on the merits. I mean, in the 1990s, Iran was not a looming threat the way that it is now because of its advanced nuclear program. And my husband, I, and others worked very hard with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and others to try to get to the point where we could establish – and of course, I wish we had done that. We’d now have had a state for 10 years and we would have had, I think, a very clear example to the world about what that meant.
I don’t want to miss this opportunity. We are making progress on the sanctions against Iran. They are clearly feeling the pinch of those because we see it in all the interactions around the world where they are now under tremendous economic pressure. Countries that we didn’t think would join with us have joined and are part of trying to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. So we’re going to stay focused on that. But we know that on its own, this is such an important accomplishment. Will it have consequences? Of course. It will, I believe, help to undermine Iran’s support and that is, in and of itself, good.
QUESTION: Your Excellency, let’s go back – go back with me to the normal and daily life for the Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, checkpoints involved. The Palestinian – Israel maintained more than 500 checkpoints that seriously hinder the freedom of movement in the West Bank. Are the United States writing this up in the negotiation? And are there steps that really give the Palestinians freedom to move, freedom to pray, to reach Jerusalem, to reach a mosque, to reach a better future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is very much on our mind and it’s very much on the minds of both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. We are well aware that improving the daily lives of Palestinians, which has been going on for a few years now – we think that President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, other leaders – but mostly citizens themselves, mostly Palestinians who have really, in the West Bank, been able to do more on their own behalf – are demonstrating, in ways we could not say, the effects, the positive effects of peace. So, the checkpoints, the roadblocks, all of the daily challenges that we know affect the Palestinians are certainly on the agenda.
Tony Blair, who you know represents the Quartet, which has played an important role in keeping the world’s attention focused on the need for these negotiations, will be working even more with the – persistently and we hope effectively with both Israel and the Palestinian leadership to try to ease as many of those problems as possible while the negotiations are going.
You see, I think the political negotiations need to be matched with changes on the ground and confidence-building and interactions between Israelis and Palestinians. You both know the problems that we face in any society where there is a really small number of people who are committed to terror and violence – it sends all kinds of messages of fear into people who themselves are just wanting to live their lives. So we want to increase freedom of access, we want to increase opportunities in the West Bank, while at the same time, we’re pursuing the political track.
QUESTION: A hypothetical “What if” question if I may: If a full agreement cannot be reached through this negotiation, is creating Palestinian states with provisional borders an option?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I never answer hypotheticals and I don’t particularly want to answer this one because that’s really for the parties to decide. And at this point, that is not on the agenda. What’s on the agenda is a final agreement that ends the conflict, resolves all claims, creates a viable Palestinian state, and gives Israel the security that you deserve and need to have.
So we don’t want to talk about fallback positions because that’s not been mentioned by either leader. I mean, each leader has come prepared to talk about all the core issues, and it would be far better to resolve borders, which then resolves a lot of other difficult matters, than to only do it halfway. So our goal, working with and supporting the negotiation by the leaders, is to get to a framework that deals with all core issues and then a final agreement.
QUESTION: Your Excellency, peace doesn’t only come through beautiful words, but needs to be backed by actions. We all know that the PA government now is through a financial crisis. So what is your message to the donors? And we really need, as a Palestinian, your message to them because they are – start losing hope in peace.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Well, two messages.
First, on the Palestinian Authority, I want to publicly commend the work that has been done by the Palestinian Authority. The advances in security are recognized by all of us. The Palestinian security forces have gained a good and well-deserved reputation for their work in the West Bank. I want to commend the changes in financial management and accountability. And the United States, as you, I’m sure, know has increased dramatically our direct support for the Palestinian Authority. And I have encouraged and urged all the donors to do that and more. Last year was a good year. We got a very robust amount of contributions. This year, we are upping our request to all of the donors to support the peace process by supporting the Palestinian Authority.
And the second message is really to the Palestinian people themselves. I was in Ramallah last year and I met with a group of young Palestinians. And I came away not only impressed, but so encouraged by their motivation, their ambition, their curiosity, their intelligence. And then shortly after that, I was in Israel and I met with a group of young Israelis. And as an outsider, but someone who has long been devoted to Israel and long been committed to a Palestinian state, I see the potential in this next generation.
And I’m hoping that the adults, I’m hoping that the leadership will be willing to try one more time and to be willing to do the hard work of making peace, because these young people – they deserve to have a future in Ramallah or Jericho, not in Toronto or Chicago. If the Palestinian diaspora came home, it would be one of the most talented group of people ever – the doctors, the lawyers, the business leaders. And Israel deserves to have a peaceful, secure future. And so that’s a passion for me, and I will do everything I can to support this process.
QUESTION: You spoke about a core issue. I’m a little confused. When you were a candidate for presidency, you said that Jerusalem was the undivided capital of Israel. Then you retracted from this statement like the candidate, now President Obama. Who should we believe, then? Candidate Clinton or Secretary of State Clinton?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You should believe that I am committed to a safe and secure Israel, and that I believe a two-state solution that realizes the aspirations of the Palestinian people is in the best interests of Israel. Jerusalem is a contested, emotional issue for both Israelis and Palestinians, and really, for Christians, Jews, and Muslims around the world, as you well know.
I want to support what is the outcome that the parties can agree to. And I think both parties know that they’re going to have to engage on this issue and come to an understanding and a resolution so that Jerusalem becomes not the flashpoint, but the symbol of peace and cooperation. And so I am fully supportive of what can be negotiated between the parties.
QUESTION: You mentioned your husband. Maybe on a personal note, do you have an extra incentive to keep on from the point that your husband left it, and this time, succeed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, there’s no doubt about that. Both my husband and I were very sad that we missed that opportunity. And I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. We – they were so close. I mean, then-Prime Minister Barak and then-President Arafat were so close. And my husband expended so much energy because he cares so deeply. And when he left office some weeks later, Yasser Arafat called him and he said, “Well, now, we’re ready to take the deal,” and my husband said, “But I’m not the president anymore.”
QUESTION: Do you think that Palestinians still losing chances in this time?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope not, because I want to see this done. I want to see it not because it’s something that I care about, although I care deeply. I want to see it because it is so much the right thing to do historically and morally and spiritually and politically and economically.
Otherwise, I see, unfortunately, the forces of destruction, the forces of negativity on both sides gaining strength. And then more young Palestinians and more young Israelis will leave. And that’s – and they don’t want to leave. I mean, I meet with them all the time and they don’t want to leave. But they want to live their lives. They want to live their lives with a level of peace, security, and opportunity, which every person of any common sense wants to have.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: So thank you very much, Your Excellency, for having us.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for this interview.

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I like Ehud Barak. I think he is courageous since he is swimming against his government’s tide. This is not new, but that does not make it irrelevant.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak speaks alongside US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department in Washington, DC in February 2010. Barak has said that Israel must tackle the “core issues” of its conflict with the Palestinians in order to close a rift with top ally the United States.

(AFP/Saul Loeb)


Let’s move away from the topic, okay? A pool safety cover made of fine mesh material, secured with a grid of straps and springs. Stainless steel springs keep the safety cover taut, and brass pop-up anchors in the pool deck hold the cover down. These brass anchors are screwed flush with the concrete when the cover is removed to eliminate the hazard of tripping. At www.uvpools.com, we want to help you love your pool again. Whether you use your pool for everyday fun or relaxing in the sun, your pool should be a source of enjoyment, not a headache.

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Well there were plenty of pictures taken at this event today where Secretary Clinton spoke and conferred with Foreign Ministers of many Arab states as well as some European representatives. We see her here with dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, among a few, and the gentleman joking with her and making her laugh is the King of Morocco.

According to this press release from the State Department, she will deliver a speech at the forum tomorrow.

Secretary Clinton To Deliver Speech at the Forum for the Future on Tuesday November 3, 2009

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 2, 2009

Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks at the opening session of the Forum for the Future in Marrakech, Morocco at 4:00 am ET / 9:00 am LOCAL tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3, 2009. Video of the Secretary’s remarks will be available shortly after the speech concludes.

The Forum for the Future is a joint civil society initiative of the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (BMENA) and the Group of Eight (G8). It brings together leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to exchange ideas and form partnerships to support progress, reform, and expanded opportunities for the people of the region.

The Secretary’s speech will reaffirm the commitment of the United States to broad engagement with Muslim communities around the world and outline concrete steps the United States is taking to follow up on the “New Beginning” that President Obama launched in Cairo.

Despite the fact that all looks rosy in these photos, the Secretary has drawn some serious fire from Arab leaders due to statements she made in Jerusalem over the weekend. Many negative reviews poured forth yesterday, and I will not link the many I saw, but here are a few examples:

From the Jerusalem Post: PA to US: Coerce settlement freeze
From Firedoglake: Somewhere, Khaled Meshal Is Laughing
From the BBC: Obama yet to deliver on Middle East

Finally, today there were these.
From Foreign Policy Magazine: From Washington and Jerusalem: more bad news
From People’s Daily Online: Egypt supports Palestinian demand for settlement freeze

The Secretary released the following clarifications today which, I believe were stated at the Forum since I just saw her on PBS saying some of what is in the text:

Secretary Clinton on the Middle East

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Marrakech, Morocco
November 2, 2009

Secretary Clinton delivered the following remarks Monday morning at a camera spray upon meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi-Fihri in Marrakech, Morocco:

For 40 years, successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel’s settlement policy. That is absolutely a fact.

And the Obama Administration’s position on settlements is clear, unequivocal. It has not changed. And as the President has said on many occasions, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. Now, the Israelis have responded to the call from the United States, the Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a willingness to restrain settlement activity. They will build no new settlements, expropriate no land, allow no new construction or approvals.

And let me just say this offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position, or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.

Let me take a step back because I want to put this into the broader context. I will offer positive reinforcement to the parties when I believe they are taking steps that support the objective of reaching a two-state solution.

I will also push them as I have in public and in private to do even more. And in my report to the President last month, I talked about Israeli willingness to restrain settlement activity as a positive step.

In the same report, I praised President Abbas’ leadership of the Palestinian Authority for their courage and the security measures on the West Bank. The steps being taken under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayed are also unprecedented and we have never seen such effective security. I have on many occasions going back – as you know in Sharm El Sheikh – praised the accomplishments that the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated in building, training, and reforming their security forces.

I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that these positive steps on the part of the Palestinians should be met by positive steps from Israel – movement and access, operations by the IDF and on Israeli security arrangements on the West Bank. Israel has done a few things in that regard but they need to do much more. And President Abbas has shown leadership and determination on this issue and Israel should reciprocate.

I just want to clarify that what we are trying to achieve is a two-state solution with a state that represents the aspirations of the Palestinian people – the sovereignty and to have control over their own future, and provide the security guarantees to Israel for their own future. That is my goal. And when either party takes any steps that looks like it moves us in the right direction – even if it is not what I would like or what I would prefer – I’m going to positively reinforce that.

This is an opportunity for both sides to try to move forward together, to get into negotiations, and to realize the goal that many of us around this table have supported and worked for for many years.

She was scheduled to return to D.C. on Wednesday, but Gwen Ifill just announced on the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer that her trip has been extended one day in order for her to go to Egypt and meet with President Mubarak. This Reuters story, Clinton to fly to Egypt for Mubarak meeting appears to corroborate that report.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
October 31, 2009

MODERATOR: Good evening, and we welcome Secretary of State Clinton. We shall start with a few words, and then we’ll take two questions from each side. Prime Minister, please.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: It’s my pleasure to welcome Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Clinton to Jerusalem. Welcome, Hillary. You are a great friend and a great champion of peace. I think that we owe a vote of thanks to you, to George Mitchell, to your staffs, and of course, to President Obama and the entire Obama Administration for the tireless efforts to re-launch the peace process – the peace process between us and the Palestinians, and between us and the Arab world – following the President’s vision of a regional peace.

We are eager to advance on both. We think that the place to resolve outstanding issues and differences of opinion is around a negotiating table. We think we should sit around that negotiating table right away. We’re prepared to start peace talks immediately. I think what we should do on the path to peace is to simply get on it and get with it. So I’m sure we’ll discuss these things and other things in the spirit of friendship between us and you, between Israel and the United States. Welcome to Jerusalem.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Prime Minister. It is a great personal pleasure for me to be back in Jerusalem and a great honor to be here as Secretary of State once again. And I look forward to our discussion, and I appreciate the very positive words about the need to get back into a negotiation that would be in the best interests of Israel and Israel’s security, as well as create a state for the Palestinian people. Both President Obama and I are committed to a comprehensive peace agreement because we do believe that it holds out the best promise for the security and future of Israel, and for the aspirations of the Palestinians.

So I’m looking forward to our discussion tonight. I know you’re someone who is indefatigable, so even though we’re starting our meeting so late, I have no doubt that it will be intense and cover a lot of ground. And I’m very much eager to begin those discussions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you think both sides should re-launch the peace process without any preconditions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to see both sides begin as soon as possible in negotiations. We have worked – and of course, Senator Mitchell has worked tirelessly – in setting forth what are the approaches that each side wishes to pursue in order to get into those negotiations, so I’m not going to express my opinion as to whether or not there should be conditions. The important thing, as the prime minister just said, is to get into the negotiations. I gave the same message today when I met with President Abbas.

We know that negotiations often take positions that then have to be worked through once the actual process starts. I think the best way to determine the way forward is, as the prime minister said, get on the path.


QUESTION: Mark Landler, New York Times. Madame Secretary, when you were here in March on the first visit, you issued a strong statement condemning the demolition of housing units in East Jerusalem. Yet, that demolition has continued unabated, and indeed, a few days ago, the mayor of the city of Jerusalem issued a new order for demolition. How would you characterize this policy today?

For the prime minister, sir, there’s been increasing tension, as you know, around – surrounding the Temple Mount, some civil unrest in the streets. Every time the peace process has lagged, often matters have been settled through violence. Are you worried that we are heading into that phase?

And then a last question, if I may. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s the New York Times, for you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Dr. Abdullah’s aides in Kabul have confirmed that he’s not going to take part in the runoff. Are you concerned that a Karzai government elected without the benefit of a runoff, given all the fraud in the first round, will be lacking in legitimacy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say I have nothing to add to my statement in March. I continue to stand by what I said then.

With respect to Afghanistan and Dr. Abdullah’s decision, I think that it is his decision to make. Whatever went into that determination is obviously his choice. But I do not think it affects the legitimacy. There have been other situations in our own country as well as around the world where, in a runoff election, one of the parties decides, for whatever reason, that they are not going to go on. I do not think that that in any way affects the legitimacy. And I would just add that when President Karzai accepted the second round without knowing what the consequences and outcome would be, that bestowed legitimacy from that moment forward, and Dr. Abdullah’s decision does not in any way take away from that.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I’m concerned with the attempts to create provocations around the issue of the Temple Mount. There are parties who are trying to do that. I assure you that the Government of Israel is not one of them. There are also extraordinary falsifications. My staff decided to have a meeting, a free evening, a few weeks ago. They decided to have it in the Old City. In the David City there’s a little restaurant there. They said, “Could you come for dessert,” because I worked long hours. I said, “Sure, I’ll see what I can do. I don’t promise, but we’ll make the arrangements.”

Our security people went there. Within an hour, Palestinian news agencies carried the story that Netanyahu was coming to the Old City to burrow a new tunnel under the Temple Mount. So help me God, this became an issue of great consequence. There were rumors that the violence would break out, exactly as you said. Now, this is entirely false. I give that as one example. There are daily examples of this and daily actions by militants, particularly the militant Islamic radicals who are trying to stir up trouble on the Temple Mount.

We are going to continue our efforts to keep Jerusalem safe, open, quiet, accessible to all three great faiths – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. And the city is now very robust. It’s got a lot of tourism, as you see in the entire area. And the best way to see what is happening there is to go for yourself. Go take a look. You’ll see. And you’ll see our actual policy in place. We want a peaceful Jerusalem without provocations on the Temple Mount or anywhere else.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you went to Abu Dhabi, and I believe you came up with not much from Abu Mazen, who is actually presenting Israel and the United States with lots of no’s. Also, United States is encountering many no’s from Iran. At the moment, it doesn’t look like some arrangement is being made at the moment. What is your reaction to what – receiving the no’s from the Arab world?

And the same question, please, to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I believe that strategic patience is a necessary part of my job, and I view the conversations that we had this morning with President Abbas and his team as being very constructive and useful in continuing the move toward engagement that leads to negotiations. So if Senator Mitchell and I appear to be patient and persistent, it’s because we are. We think it’s worth being both.

With respect to Iran, there is not yet a final decision with respect to the Tehran research reactor. The important matter that I would underscore is the unity among the P-5+1, which includes not only the United States but the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and also the EU, in putting forth and in staying firm with this. The world is united in a view that Iran should not have or acquire nuclear weapons capacity. And our view is that we are willing to work toward creative outcomes like shipping out the low-enriched uranium to be reprocessed outside of Iran. But we’re not going to wait forever. Patience does have, finally, its limits. And it is time for Iran to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities to the international community, and accepting this deal would be a good beginning.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: You asked two questions, one on Iran and the other on the peace process. On Iran, I want to express our appreciation for the very clear stance adopted by President Obama that has united, as Secretary Clinton has just said, an international consensus that Iran must cease its efforts to become a nuclear military power. I think the fact that there has been unity that has not been seen for a long time on this position is something very valuable, very important. And I think it’s important not only for Israel, I think it’s important for the Middle East, for our region, for the peace of the world. So I want to commend the efforts of you and President Obama and the Western and other leaders have taken here to – on this issue that I think is central to the future of the world, to the future of peace.

As far as the question about the peace process is concerned, look, first let me, before you talk about the no’s, talk about the yes. And I want to put rhetoric aside and talk about facts. It’s a fact that since my government took office, we dismantled hundreds of earth blocks, checkpoints, facilitated movement in the Allenby Bridge, and eliminated a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to daily life and economic activity in the Palestinian Authority’s areas. And as a result, there’s been a Palestinian economic boom. That is a fact.

The second fact is that I gave a speech at Bar Ilan University in which I said that Israel will accept the vision of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. It wasn’t easy to do, but we did it. That is a fact.

The third fact is that we’ve been talking earnestly, openly, and transparently to the American Administration, and we’ve talked about measures that we can take to facilitate further the launching – the re-launching of the peace process. That is a fact.

The simple fact is this: We are willing to engage in peace talks immediately without preconditions. The other fact is that, unfortunately, the other side is not. It is asking and piling on preconditions that it never put on in the 16 years that we’ve had that the peace process since the annunciation of the Oslo Accords. There have not been these preconditions. It’s a change of Palestinian policy, and I hope they change back to the right thing, which is to get into the negotiating tent. We’re eager and sincere in our desire to reach an agreement to end this conflict. I happen to think that we’re able to do this, contrary to all the pessimists around us. But the only way we can get to an agreement is to begin negotiating, and that is something that we are prepared to do. That is a fact.

MODERATOR: Finally, Joe Klein from Time Magazine. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m tempted to ask why is this night different from all other nights —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want us to burst into song? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes. For 40 years, we’ve seen American secretaries of state and Israeli prime ministers in a similar situation. Despite the prime minister’s optimism, the talks are stalled. The prospect of talks is stalled. And while you’ve said yes without preconditions to talks, so many of your – you’ve said no to a settlement freeze. And I wonder whether that would be open to negotiation.

And Madame Secretary, is the Obama Administration still in favor of a total freeze? And if not, what’s plan b?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Joe, the specific question you asked about the settlements also has to be fully factual. The fact of the matter is that we – I said we would not build new settlements, not expropriate land for addition for the existing settlements, and that we were prepared to adopt a policy of restraint on the existing settlements, but also one that would still enable normal life for the residents who are living there.

Now, there has not been in the last 16 years – not 40 years but 16 years, since the beginning of the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – any demand every put not on restraint, but on any limitation on settlement activity as a precondition for entering negotiations. This is a new thing. Now, it’s true that you can take a new thing and you can repeat it ad nauseum for a few weeks and a few months, and it becomes something that is obvious and has been there all the time. It’s not been there all the time.

QUESTION: It was there in the first Bush Administration, right?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: No, there has not been a precondition for entering or continuing with the peace process between us and the Palestinians. There’s not been a demand coming from the Palestinians that said we will not negotiate with you unless you freeze all activity – something that is problematic in so many ways, judicial and in other ways. I won’t get into that. But this is a new demand. It’s a change of policy, the Palestinian policy. And it doesn’t do much for peace. It doesn’t work to advance negotiations. It actually – this uses a pretext, or at least does something as an obstacle that prevents the reestablishment of negotiations.

Now, mind you, the issue of settlements, the issue of territories, the issue of borders – these will be engaged in the negotiations, and they’ll have to be resolved for a peace agreement to be achieved. But you can’t resolve it in advance of the negotiations, and you certainly shouldn’t pile it on as a precondition.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would add just for context that what the prime minister is saying is historically accurate. There has never been a precondition. It’s always been an issue within the negotiations. What the prime minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements, which he has just described – no new starts, for example – is unprecedented in the context of the prior two negotiations. It’s also the fact that for 40 years, presidents of both parties have questioned the legitimacy of settlements.

But I think that where we are right now is to try to get into the negotiations. The prime minister will be able to present his government’s proposal about what they are doing regarding settlements, which I think when fully explained will be seen as being not only unprecedented but in response to many of the concerns that have been expressed. There are always demands made in any negotiation that are not going to be fully realized. I mean, negotiation, by its very definition, is a process of trying to meet the other’s needs while protecting your core interests. And on settlements, there’s never been a precondition, there’s never been such an offer from any Israeli government. And we hope that we’ll be able to move in to the negotiations where all the issues that President Obama mentioned in his speech at the United Nations will be on the table for the parties to begin to resolve.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you very much.

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AP Photo U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, speaks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ahead of their meeting in Jerusalem Saturday Oct. 31, 2009.

Getty Images JERUSALEM – OCTOBER 31: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) stands with Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman before their meeting October 31, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed on Saturday to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks with Israel, a spokesman for Abbas said, citing Jewish settlements as a stumbling block.

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From Pakistan, Secretary Clinton traveled to Abu Dhabi where she met with principals involved in the Mid-East peace process. Here she is pictured with Mahmoud Abbas.

Reuters Pictures U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) stands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Abu Dhabi October 31, 2009, in this picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO).


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Remarks With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ramallah, West Bank
March 4, 2009

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, we welcome Mrs. Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, in her first visit to the Palestinian territories, and we thank her for the positions, the supporting positions towards the Palestinian question, and for what His Excellency President Obama has expressed and demonstrated in terms of such positions, particularly what happened during the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, which – and the support to this vital conference for the reconstruction of the Palestinian territories in Gaza Strip.

And we also thank President Obama for this dynamism and for this vitality, and pushing the peace process forward, whether during the visit of Mrs. Clinton or during the visits of Mr. Mitchell to the region. And we have reiterated to Mrs. Clinton our insistence to move forward with the peace process according to the international legitimacy and the Roadmap plan and the two-state vision and our firm commitment towards that.

And we have also discussed the Palestinian national dialogue that has been taking place and continues to take place in Cairo, and about the formation of a Palestinian unity that abides by our obligations fully and works towards overseeing presidential and legislative elections in – within – no longer than the 24th of January 2010.

I believe that the time has become opportune now to put all the final status issues on the negotiation table, and also to conclude and finalize them and reach a final solution. And I’m talking about Jerusalem, the borders, refugees, water, security, and other issues, as well as the issue of prisoners, that we believe it is very important to release them all at the end of this process.

As we have also discussed, the Israeli Government – the new Israeli Government – and we have reiterated that we respect the choice of the Israeli people, and we respect the elections that took place in Israel. But we demand that the Israeli Government also commits itself to the Roadmap plan and the two-state vision and solution, and for the Israeli Government to work towards ending all settlement activities and lifting the checkpoints and end the settlement projects, particularly what is happening these days in E1 area, and the displacement that was decided in C1 area. These are issues that we cannot accept or tolerate. We have also stressed that we are waiting – awaiting from President Obama’s Administration and from the Quartet to work to push the two parties towards abiding by these commitments.

There’s also another important issue that has taken place at Sharm el-Sheikh conference regarding the aid, the assistance that is going to be provided to the Palestinian people. But we have talked with Mrs. Clinton about the need to open the crossing points and the borders, and to lift the siege that is imposed upon our people in Gaza Strip and allow the humanitarian and basic needs to flow into Gaza Strip, because the Palestinian people are suffering a lot. And the time is passing by and people are suffering and in need, and that is not tolerated.

We reiterate again that we are committed to the complete and comprehensive and final solution that was described in the Roadmap plan, and we hope that peace can be concluded at all other tracks – the Syrian track and the Lebanese track – so that we have a comprehensive peace and genuine and just peace in the region. We also reiterate here that the Arab Peace Initiative that was endorsed by more than one Arab and Islamic summit would be ready for implementation, but we hope that no longer time passes by before we can implement it. And I – we think that it is a sure opportunity and only opportunity for a peace to be achieved in the Middle East region and in the whole world.

Again, I’d like to welcome you, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and I thank you for your visit.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, President Abbas. It is a pleasure and an honor to be back here and to have the opportunity to meet with you, a leader of courage and dedication to the Palestinian people. And I am very proud to stand beside President Abbas to deliver a message from my country and our President.

The United States supports the Palestinian Authority as the only legitimate government of the Palestinian people. And as a partner on the road to a comprehensive peace, which includes a two-state solution, our support comes with more than words. As I pledged in Sharm el-Sheikh, we will work with President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and the government of the Palestinian Authority to address critical humanitarian, budgetary, security, and infrastructure needs, both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, a child growing up in Gaza without shelter, healthcare 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 any country. That a mother and a father here in the West Bank, struggling to fulfill their dreams for their children, have the same right as parents anywhere else to have a good job, a decent home, and the tools to achieve greater prosperity.

The United States aims to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized, a state that can provide these opportunities, a state that is a responsible partner, is at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors, and is accountable to its people. That is the state that this government is attempting to build.

I met with Prime Minister Fayyad this morning and I expressed to him the appreciation we had for his presentation at Sharm el-Sheikh, which outlined the specific needs of the people in Gaza.
I also believe that it is imperative we continue to do the reform work that the president is leading in order to bolster the credibility of the government and to serve the needs of the people.

I’m very grateful that President Abbas has remained firm in his commitment to move forward on a comprehensive peace and a two-state solution. President Abbas is offering the Palestinian people the chance, finally, to fulfill the aspirations to be free, independent, prosperous, and peaceful, flourishing in a state of your own. And the only way to achieve that goal is through negotiations. So all who believe in this comprehensive peace, we urge you to work with the Palestinian Authority and with us, because we are determined to move forward.

Time is of the essence. We cannot afford more delays or regrets about what might have been had different decisions been made in the past. The Obama Administration will be vigorously engaged in efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and all of the Arab neighbors. I will remain personally engaged. As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a commitment that I carry in my heart, not just in my portfolio as Secretary of State.

And Senator George Mitchell is the President’s and my Special Envoy. As you know, he has been here already. He is here today. And he will return soon. We all know and respect that in the end, it is up to the parties themselves to make peace. We offer you our support, not just today, but for all the tomorrows to come until the goal is realized. We believe that you have begun to establish the base on which the comprehensive peace can be built. And we will encourage and support you as you continue to advance the cause of the Palestinian people.

Earlier today, I met with some young Palestinians, young men and women who are furthering their education, and I was very impressed. We talked about women, because it’s Women’s History Month, and then I answered questions. And they asked about what I admired when I was growing up and what their dreams were, and then I was interviewed by two young Palestinian broadcasters. And they asked me what I would say to a young woman living in a village outside of Ramallah who might be losing hope, who might believe that there is no future.

And what I would say to her is what I have said and will say to young people everywhere. There is never reason to give up hope. There are many obstacles and challenges that lie in the way of realizing dreams, whether it’s individual dreams or the dreams of a people. But persevering, rethinking, regrouping, being committed will eventually result in the goal that we are seeking together.

So perhaps even more than the wonderful meeting that I had with President Abbas and the prior meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad, my meeting with those young Palestinians, Mr. President, made it very clear what is at stake and how important it is that we complete the journey we have begun. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Mr. President Abu Mazen, did Mrs. Clinton convey a letter or a message to you from President Obama about their strategy for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? And did they – did she convey a message from you – from Olmert to you that – or Netanyahu that you – they are ready to solve the problem?

Mrs. Clinton, the peace process had started since the presidency of Bush, Sr. And are you going – are you ready to do something tangible on the ground to end this conflict? The second part of this question: Netanyahu refuses a Palestinian state and he will have Lieberman on his government, and he was a member of Kach, a group that was considered at one time as a terrorist group. Are you going to deal with this government, this new Israeli Government?

PRESIDENT ABBAS: The message that we received and we received today from His Excellency President Obama is that he is committed fully to the peace process, and that he will exert all efforts in order to realize peace, and that he supports the Palestinian National Authority in all its efforts and provide support at all levels, and that he supports the Roadmap plan and the Arab Peace Initiative. This is what we’ve heard, yet every time we met, last time we heard that also from President Obama himself.

As for the Israeli prime minister, I believe that he is in a situation where he is forming his government. And so we might hear from him something that is clearer and straightforward after he forms this government and after he presents his program to – for his people for their approval and after he presents his plans and his electoral program.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the president is right. The United States, through President Obama, is committed to a comprehensive peace, including a two-state solution. I have said that publicly. I have said that privately. There is no difference in any message that I am delivering in public or in private.

As the president also said, the Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu is forming his government. As soon as that government is formed, Senator Mitchell will return to begin meeting with that government. We are not waiting. We are moving forward. And we believe that there will be very constructive talks with the new Netanyahu government.

MR. WOOD: The next question is Glenn Kessler from The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Yes. Madame Secretary, Israel last week approved the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and, as you arrived, another 55 homes were slated for demolition, the largest number in one area since 1967. Will you, as James Baker did in 1991, urge a halt to such unilateral actions?

And President Abbas, what do you think of these demolitions, and has the U.S. been too silent on this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Glenn, clearly, this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the roadmap. It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the Government at the municipal level in Jerusalem, because it is clearly a matter of deep concern to those who are directly affected. But the ramifications go far beyond the individuals and the families that have received the notices you referenced. So yes, this will be taken up with the Israeli government.

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) These measures that the Israeli Government has decided to go forward with are completely rejected and at all levels. And we believe that it is a clear message to us that whoever is undertaking these measures does not want peace. And therefore, the Israeli measures, we have told everyone and we’ve sent messages to everyone, to all concerned parties, that such measures are clear signals to us that they do not want peace.

And I’ve mentioned earlier in my speech that the Israeli Government – the new Israeli Government – should abide by the Roadmap obligations and the two-state solution and to end all activities related to settlement and activities and demolition of homes. Otherwise, we cannot consider – they cannot consider themselves as partners in the peace process

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Mr. President, first of all, how do you view this attack launched against you by Iran, and particularly, the latest statements by the – one of the senior spiritual leaders of Iran?

Mrs. Secretary of State, as we’ve heard from President Abbas, settlement is one of the main obstacles, but the American administrations in the past have promised but was unable to end the settlement activities. Are there new tools for the new American Administration to end these settlement activities?

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) We tell the Iranians and all others that they should keep off our internal affairs and not interfere with our affairs. All these interferences are negative and do not serve the best interest of the Palestinian people or the Arab world. They should stop and refrain from all these kinds of interferences. But we even consider that such interferences are to obstruct and to put obstacles in the Palestinian national reconciliation process. And Iran nor Khamenei have the right to say such – to make such statements, and we reject it utterly and completely.

Iran has to see its own affairs and manage its own affairs and stay away from interfering into the Palestinian affairs. They are interfering only to deepen the Palestinian divisions. And since their interference began, they have always tried to deepen the intra-Palestinian divisions and not to help the Palestinians to reach their goals and objectives.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We will certainly be raising that issue. We will be looking for a way to put it on the table, along with all the other issues that need to be discussed and resolved. And at this time, I think we should wait until we have a new Israeli government. That will be soon, and then we will look at whatever tools are available.

MR. WOOD: The last question (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, the newspaper Al Haaretz reported today that you told Defense Minister Barak that Israel needed to do more to open border crossings, and that you told Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu that his plan to offer economic peace to the Palestinians would not work without a political track. Can you confirm now that you – now that your meetings are over, that you made those points to the Israelis?

And for President Abbas, do you have concerns with the U.S. sending envoys to Syria and also, focused on Iran, that the Palestinian track will not receive the attention it deserves going forward? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say that I have not said anything differently in private that I’ve said in public. We have obviously expressed concerns about the border crossings. We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to be able to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza. That’s been a public and a private message that I have carried with me in numerous different settings.

On each of these matters, we are expressing the view of the United States Government in a way that we hope proves helpful. Obviously, we are trying to express constructive ideas that we think will, on the one hand, alleviate the immediate crisis in Gaza, and on the other, give us an opportunity to set the table for a constructive and eventually successful resolution of the issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians and reach the goal of two states living in peace and security side by side.

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) We are not concerned at all about sending envoys – American envoys to Syria, but we feel comfortable about that. Yes, we are comfortable about that, that an American delegation has visited Damascus. And at the same time, we are saying that if we want a comprehensive and a fair peace, just peace, then all the tracks need to be resolved – the Palestinian, the Syrian, and the Lebanese tracks.

And we also believe that it would not be possible for any track to be – to move forward on the account of the Palestinian track or vice versa. We know clearly that the Palestinian track is moving on, as well as the Syrian tracks and they run in parallel, and they will not be taking away from the progress in one against the other.

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