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Among the bilaterals Mme. Secretary held yesterday were her meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  Here is a snip from a senior State Department official’s briefing on those meetings.

Background Briefing on the Secretary’s Bilateral Meetings With Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 26, 2012

MODERATOR: All right, everybody. Thank you for hanging with us for the late hour. We have with us [Senior State Department Official], hereafter Senior State Department Official, to talk to you both about the working lunch that the Secretary had with Jordanian King Abdullah, and also about the meeting that she just had with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Abbas. Take it away, [Senior State Department Official].

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. Well, thank you very much, and good evening. We might start with the working lunch that the Secretary had. It lasted about an hour. It was preceded by, oh, I don’t know, about 15-20 minutes of one-on-one time as well. It was over at the King’s Hotel at the Mandarin Oriental. And the participants in the lunch were, on our side, in addition to the Secretary, Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones, Special Envoy David Hale, (inaudible) the Policy Planning Chief, Jake Sullivan, on our side. And on their side it was the Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, the King’s Chief of Staff Imad Fakhoury, and their Ambassador to Washington Alia Bouran.

As you know, the relationship between Jordan and the United States is one of – it’s very, very close, and between the King and the Secretary and our leadership similarly one very close. So this was a good opportunity to compare notes about developments across the region that we and the King are both focused on.

I’d say that it really boiled down to three topics. One was Middle East peace and the Israeli-Palestinian set of issues. The second related to Syria, which of course is a major challenge for Jordan. And third, the internal reform agenda of the King and the people of Jordan.

On Middle East peace, the King has been a leader on this from the beginning. Most recently in January, he devoted a lot of time and energy and effort and showed great leadership and skill in bringing the parties together at a level below that of the leaders for a set of talks. He has been someone, along with the Foreign Minister, who has been in very close coordination with us on the way forward. We talked a bit about that, and certainly we understood that we can count on Jordan and his leadership when we need to, and we often do, to try to overcome the obstacles that are blocking the parties right now.

On Syria, I think that there was very lengthy discussion about the terrible situation there and the options to try to reverse that and change it. The humanitarian situation, which weighs very heavily on Jordan, was also a major theme – the refugee flows and the danger that there will be more to come into Jordan and the challenges and burdens that that poses on that country with its limited resources. The Secretary talked about what we could do to help the Jordanians bear that burden and to work with the international community and the UN and others to make sure that the resources were available for them to do that.

There was also a discussion, obviously, of the political situation there and how we would work together and work – and try to encourage the Syrian opposition to work together on a unity plan. And there was an agreement that we would be working and talking more about this on Friday when there is a Friends of the Syrian Opposition Ad Hoc meeting. So this is something that we’re both very much focused on. And of course, the Secretary made very clear our position on President Assad and the fact that he must go.

On the set of reform issues, the King was very upbeat and very optimistic about the direction things are going in and the pace at which they’re going in. Secretary Clinton welcomed the progress that has been made so far to broaden and deepen participation in the political process for all Jordanians, by all Jordanians, and expressed our support for pursuing that in the way that he described. That, in a nutshell, was the discussion with the Jordanians, so I move onto the Palestinians.

We had a meeting there with – at his hotel at the Grand Hyatt – that lasted for about half an hour, and then they had another 10 minutes or so one-on-one. In the larger meeting, participation on our side was Ambassador Susan Rice, Under Secretary of State Sherman, Michael Ratney, our Consul General in Jerusalem who came here for the meeting, Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones from the Near East Bureau, Special Envoy David Hale, and Policy Planning Director Jake Sullivan. On the Palestinian side the participants were their lead negotiator Saeb Erekat and key advisors to the President, Akram Haniyeh, Nabil Aburudainah, and their representative – the PLO representative in Washington, Maen Areikat.

The discussion also, as always I think with Abu Mazen, covered a whole range of issues. He is watching the region very closely and he has been a leader of the Palestinian people for a very long time, and his insights and observations are of great interest to us, and he shared them. They compared notes on really everything you could think of – Syria certainly, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, and all the changes going on around the Palestinians. And certainly, we recognize that these events reflect on the Palestinians and the choices that they have as they look at the future.


The Secretary also asked him about the situation in the West Bank and expressed her concern for what we’ve seen in terms of the financial and economic pressures and challenges that the Palestinian people are enduring and the Palestinian Authority trying to address. He went on at some length about that and about the difficulties.

We indicated that we are looking at every means we can to help the Palestinian Authority meet these financial challenges. There was a major event that we hold twice a year earlier this week. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee met, chaired by the Norwegians and co-chaired by the United States and the EU, in which all the donors involved with the Palestinians came together and talked about ways in which they could help make a difference.
The Secretary also talked about our own assistance and the status of that as we work with our Congress to – the assistance package is now with the Hill, and her efforts to work with Congress so we could get that money to the Palestinian Authority, including a crucial $200 million in budget – direct budget support. And we also talked about what could be done on the ground, in the here and now, as Prime Minister Fayyad often calls it, to help overcome the difficulties.

We also, of course, turned to the Middle East peace process and the efforts that we’ve been working on to try to overcome the differences separating the parties, exchanged ideas on how to do that. And we certainly plan to continue our intensive work in that direction.

I think I’ll stop there….

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Mme. Secretary is back on her high wire this week. Tomorrow she meets with Netanyahu in NYC. It would be really nice if, after that, she were just to go home for the weekend, but the last time she was in NYC on a Thursday, she went back to DC for a full Friday. I cannot win! She pays no attention to what I wish!

Announcement of the Transfer of Budget Assistance Funds to the Palestinian Authority

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
Via Satellite
Washington, DC
November 10, 2010

 


 

MR. CROWLEY: Good morning and welcome to the Department of State. We have a global traveler back with us after 30,000 air miles in the Asia region. But clearly, what the Secretary will talk about today underscores our ongoing, significant commitment to the Palestinian Authority and to helping build the institutions of the Palestinian Authority as we continue to press the parties for direct negotiations.

But without further ado, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, P.J., and good morning, everybody. Now, are we going to have the prime minister on the screen?

STAFF: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: There he is. (Laughter.) Hello. Well, I am delighted to see Prime Minister Fayyad, and this link-up is the next best thing to being together in person. And I welcome our guests here in Washington and say hello to everyone in Ramallah.

Before I address the subject of my announcement today, I want to also address what I know is on the minds of many of you. The United States was deeply disappointed by the announcement of advanced planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. This announcement was counterproductive to our efforts to resume negotiations between the parties. We have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem. We will continue to work to resume negotiations to address this and other final status issues.

We, along with many others, are working every day, indeed every hour, to help create the conditions for negotiations to succeed. We still believe that a positive outcome is both possible and necessary. I will be seeing Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow in New York and consultations continue on all sides and we will persevere.

Now, as Prime Minister Fayyad understands so well, we have to move forward together simultaneously, and mutually reinforcing on two tracks – the hard work of negotiations and the hard work of building institutions and capacities. We need to work with the Palestinian Authority to support their efforts to build toward a future Palestinian state that is able to govern itself, uphold its responsibilities to provide for its own people, and ensure security. Progress on this second track gives confidence to negotiators, removes excuses for delay, and underscores that the Palestinian Authority has become a credible partner for peace.

Now, earlier this fall, I was able to visit Ramallah and see firsthand the continuing progress that the Palestinian Authority is making under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Thanks to their hard work, the Palestinian Authority is reversing a history of corruption and producing results that actually matter and improve the lives of Palestinians. As a result, new businesses are opening, taxes are being collected, services are being delivered, security is much improved and the economy is growing.

When you look around Ramallah and other Palestinian communities today, you see new buildings going up, professional police officers on the streets, and a sense of opportunity and purpose. In fact, the World Bank recently concluded that if the Palestinian Authority maintains its momentum in building institutions and delivering public services, it is, and I quote, “well positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future.” So I want to congratulate President Abbas and you, Prime Minister, on everything that your government has accomplished. It is a testament to your leadership and skill as well as to the talents and determination of the Palestinian people themselves.

Now, of course, the prime minister would be the first to say that all this progress remains tenuous and there is much more work to be done, and he would be right. Unemployment remains high, especially among young people. Smaller communities have yet to see the benefits of greater prosperity despite the increase in new businesses, the rise in tax receipts, and the generous contributions from the international community. The Palestinian Authority still faces a serious budget shortfall.

But the United States and our international partners are committed to supporting the Palestinian Authority as it works to overcome these challenges. So today, I am pleased to announce that the United States has transferred an additional $150 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. This brings our direct budget assistance to a total of $225 million for the year and our overall support and investment to nearly $600 million this year. This figure underscores the strong determination of the American people and this Administration to stand with our Palestinian friends even during difficult economic times, as we have here at home.

This new funding will help the Palestinian Authority pay down its debt, continue to deliver services and security to its people, and keep the progress going. It will support our work together to expand Palestinians’ access to schools, clinics, and clean drinking water in both the West Bank and Gaza. And it will allow Prime Minister Fayyad’s government to build and modernize courthouses and police stations, train judges and prosecutors, and launch new economic development initiatives.

Strict safeguards are in place to ensure the money will be used responsibly. The United States, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund all carefully monitor the use of donor funds and we have great confidence in Prime Minister Fayyad and his ability to provide accountability and transparency.

I am pleased that a number of our other partners have stepped forward recently and also increased their support for the Palestinian Authority. Saudi Arabia recently transferred an additional $100 million. The United Arab Emirates provided a funding infusion in September and the European Union also announced major new funding.

On my recent trip to Asia, I was encouraged to hear widespread support for the Palestinian Authority’s state building efforts underscoring, again, the global resonance of this issue. The United States will step up our work with partners like Japan, Malaysia, Australia, and others to find new ways to increase financial support for the Palestinian Authority. Now, unfortunately the Palestinian people still have some friends who prefer to support their aspirations with words rather than deeds. But that won’t put food on the table, create jobs, build credible institutions, or help speed the creation of a new state. Palestinians need results, not rhetoric. And they need partners willing to invest in their future. And that is exactly what the United States is doing. And together we are moving forward despite the challenges, and there are many.

We take confidence from the steady leadership and bold vision of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. So let me thank the prime minister for his tireless efforts to realize the dreams of the Palestinian people and for being a consistent voice for progress and common sense. So now, Mr. Prime Minister, it’s your turn to say a few words. And we hope that our connection works better than it did the last time we tried this.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: I sure hope so. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: We tested it. Let me first introduce my party here I have with me. First, Consul General of the United States Daniel Rubinstein, Head of – Director of USAID Mission, here Mr. Michael Harvey. I have also with me my colleague in government, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, our Minister of Planning. Documentation that pertains to the transfer has just been signed and concluded. So let me now begin, Madam Secretary, by once again thanking you for taking the time to be with us this morning your time, evening ours, to announce the transfer that you just announced of $150 million in support of the Palestinian Authority budget.

We really appreciate this assistance because it is highly responsive to our needs in two ways. First, in terms of the type of assistance, it being of the form of budget support is the kind of assistance that we need the most, as it helps us deal with the needs that we have to deal with and actually meet the duties, obligations, the responsibilities that we have to discharge in the course of doing the best we can in the interest of bringing about better life for our people. It also is highly responsive to our needs in the sense of its timeliness. As you well know, Madam Secretary, and we have talked about this a number of times, we have faced quite serious financial difficulty for the past few months that made our life extremely difficult in terms of meeting those obligations that we have in a timely fashion.

So the money and the substantial amount it is, the transfer, that is, of $150 million and the timeliness of it, could not really be better. We thank you very much for the responsiveness and also for splendid staff work on your part both in Washington as well as here to make this happen (inaudible) actually happen. It’s an opportunity for me to once again reiterate the Palestinian Authority’s deep appreciation for the longstanding support of the United States of our common development and adjustment and reform efforts. As a matter of fact, over a period – since the inception of Palestinian Authority, the United States has actually extended assistance in the total amount of about $3.5 billion over the period 1994 through 2010. About half of this money actually was made available over the past three years plus a few months. Half of that is in the form of budget support. And to be exact, $800 million of this total assistance has been over the past three years in the form of direct budgetary support. And this brings me to the second point.

Apart from the volume, the magnitude of this generous transfer, the form in which it was delivered, the modality of its delivery, meaning directly to our budget, underscores the confidence which once again the United States Government Congress also have in the integrity of our public finance system. We Palestinians take this as a matter of pride, immense pride, in fact. And in fact, it reflects the kind of progress that we have been able to make over the past few years in trying to get our institutions in the state of being – in the shape of being state ready.

Readiness for statehood is, in fact, the key objective of the program that we launched, Madame Secretary, in August of 2009 with the aim of completing the task of capacity building and also amass a critical mass of positive change on the ground in the form of maturing governance processes but also infrastructure of state. We are well on our way, also judging by that statement which you were kind to, as a matter of fact, read out today again by the World Bank about the expectation of us being ready for statehood at any point in the near future on the strength of what we have been able to accomplish over the first half of this three-year program. So we are well on track. We are determined to stay the course despite the difficulties and obstacles that we continue to have to contend with every day. Nevertheless, we, as I said, remain hopeful that we are actually going to be state ready come summer of 2011. It’s a goal that we are doing our (inaudible) best, in fact, to meet.

I said what I said about the U.S. assistance that has been made available in support of our budget, the direct budgetary assistance, but that is in addition, of course, to other forms of assistance that you have mentioned, Madam Secretary, that went a long way toward supporting the Palestinian Authority in various spheres of government and also infrastructure. I can tell you for sure without much difficulty that there is hardly any sign of visible progress on the ground in Palestine today that does not have the caring fingerprints of USAID on it.

I’m talking to you, Madam Secretary, and to your colleagues in Washington about, for example, physical infrastructure, including water, electricity, road networks. I’m talking to you also about social services, importantly, education, health, social assistance. I’m talking to you also about the assistance that you have so generously provided to help us with capacity building in all spheres of government, including security. I can go on, but as I said, there’s hardly a sign of visible progress that does not have a contribution of the United States Government associated with it.

We thank you very much. That has helped our effort, as a matter of fact. And over the past nearly three years now, just under three years, we’ve been able to implement some 1,700 small community development programs that have contributed remarkably to bringing about better living conditions for our people in spite of the occupation and its adversity.

As you mentioned, unemployment remains high. It has trended downward over this time period. It is lower than it was a couple of years ago, but it still remains high. It’s a challenge and we’re working very hard to reduce it further.

Poverty has declined by nearly one-third over the period 2007-2009, so there are, as a matter of fact, signs of progress, signs that are strongly suggestive of this effort being on track. And if, in fact, we were to continue with it, as we fully intend to do, we believe that we are actually going to see the tangible results that our people started to feel throughout the country. I’m talking about not only dwellers of urban areas, but I’m talking especially about people in rural areas, refugee camps throughout, areas that have been long marginalized and areas that have been so adversely affected by the construction of the separation wall as well as settlement activity.

So we appreciate the assistance. We appreciate the vote of confidence that comes with that. Let me also add, Madam Secretary, that we are doing this in addition to it being done in the context of this reform effort and adjustment effort and state-building effort, it also is important to happening in a context of declining need for external assistance. This is a key objective of ours and it defines very much the kind of thinking that we have insofar as economic viability is concerned, financial viability is concerned. I can tell you for sure that our need for exceptional financial support has already declined substantially from about $1.8 billion in 2008 to about $1.2 billion this year. That is a decline of about one-third in our reliance on external assistance and aid money. The prospect is for further reduction in 2011. In fact, we look to 2011 as the year in which we expect to make decisive (inaudible) towards attaining financial viability by end 2013, at which point we will no longer, we expect, need any more the kind of assistance that we are getting from you today in the form of direct budgetary assistance, which we hope will also be seen as a sign of maturity, maturing institutions of state, governments (inaudible) the kind of accomplishment and progress that you – and delivery that you expect countries that have been around a long time to be able to do but without considerable difficulty.

So here we are, Madam Secretary. We are well on our way trying to do the best we can in a highly challenging environment. The context is very difficult. I alluded to some of the difficulties that we have. I very much appreciate the statement that you made at the outset in relation to further announcement of yet another expansion of settlement activity in the Jerusalem area this time around, as it happened before. That remains a very serious challenge and a problem for all of us.

So therefore, Madam Secretary, in the period ahead we certainly will continue to look to you for continued strong leadership as you continue to try hard to put together elements that are necessary to have a strong political process, a credible political process, one that is capable of delivering that which we all want to see happen, an end to the Israeli occupation. And of course, the day will come when that state of Palestine will be born so our people can live in freedom and dignity in a country of our own. That’s what this is about, and we look to you again for continued strong leadership as we move forward down this path which has witnessed a great deal of difficulty. Nevertheless, we are determined and we remain hopeful on the strength of what we’ve been able to accomplish here and the hope and expectation that those (inaudible) along the path of state building and getting ready for statehood, on the strength of what that is expected to do by reinforcing the effort on the political process (inaudible).

Once again, Madam Secretary, on behalf of the Palestinian people, on behalf of President Abbas, Palestinian National Authority, my colleagues in government, I thank you personally for the effort that you have made to support us and for your continued and longstanding support, for the efforts of your colleagues. I thank President Obama, U.S. Congress, and of course, the American people for this largesse. Thank you so very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. We greatly appreciate your efforts and your very gracious words about our country and our support for you. Now I think I’m going to take a question here. Is that what’s happening?

MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.) You’ve got the meeting with the Vice President coming up.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well, I can probably take one question maybe. Okay.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, we’ve seen all the controversy develop this week on settlements between the Israeli Government, the Palestinians, and the Administration. So what do you think you can achieve on that front by talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow? And how do you assess the hope of resuming the peace talks at all?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe strongly that negotiations are the only means by which the parties will be able to conclude an agreement that will lead to a Palestinian state and Israel living in security with its neighbors. That is our view. That is our commitment. And I’m going to be speaking with the prime minister tomorrow once again about the way forward. I remain convinced that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas want to realize the two-state solution. Like any very difficult political challenge, it is often hard to find the path forward. But we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to assist the parties in doing so.

Thank you all.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much.

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Press Conference With Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Press Conference

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Via Digital Video Conference
Washington, DC
July 24, 2009

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon from Washington, and good evening to our friends in Ramallah. Here in Washington we are joined by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and in Ramallah by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. We’ll begin the program with Secretary Clinton and then follow by remarks by the prime minister.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Welcome, and I’m delighted to be able to speak via technology on this important issue. I know that Prime Minister Fayyad and our Consul General in Jerusalem, Jake Walles, and others are joining us from Ramallah. I want to thank you for taking the time to meet with us. And I express – especially appreciate, Mr. Prime Minister, that you and your colleagues agreed to do this late on Friday evening, which I know is not convenient, to allow me to participate once I returned to Washington from Asia.

I wanted personally to announce the delivery of budget support to the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Because what is at stake for the Palestinian people, for the future of a Palestinian state, for the future security of Israel, and for the region is so critical. This is important also to the United States and the Obama Administration. Finding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader conflict that has plagued the Middle East for decades has been a priority for the President and me from the very beginning of the Administration.

I am pleased that Senator George Mitchell, our Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, is back in the region. And I believe we are making progress in our efforts to create the environment for a successful resumption of negotiations in the near future. As I said at Sharm el-Sheikh, human progress depends on the human spirit. The broader goals we seek to accomplish – a comprehensive Arab-Israeli agreement and a two-state solution – are more likely to grow out of opportunity than futility, out of hope rather than misery.

As I also said, the point of our engagement is to help the parties make the decisions that are in their best interests. And it is our hope that the support of the United States and other nations will help foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized, a state that is a responsible partner, is at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors, accountable to its people, a state that Palestinians everywhere can be proud of and that will be respected worldwide.

This shared goal depends on strengthening the Palestinian Authority and its ability to meet the needs of its people. In just over two years, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad have put in place the foundations of a responsible, transparent, accountable government. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that the United States has transferred $200 million in direct support to the Palestinian Authority. This transfer fulfills a critical portion of the assistance package that I announced in March in Sharm el-Sheikh. The ability of the United States to provide support directly to the Palestinian Authority is an indication of the bipartisan support for the effort to secure the peace in the Middle East, as well as for the fundamental reforms that the Palestinian Authority has undertaken. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle worked closely with us to make this assistance possible.

An important marker of progress is that the Palestinian Authority now has systems in place to ensure that donor funds are handled transparently and in an accountable manner. We will continue to work with the Palestinian leadership to bolster these safeguards to make sure that the funding ends up exactly where – and for whom – it is intended.

But we are confident, because the Palestinian Authority, under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, has a very exceptional two-year track record of performance on economic reform and prudent financial management, as noted by the World Bank, the IMF, and our own internal reviews. These fiscal reforms serve a larger purpose. We are seeing the positive impact that responsible government is having on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, daily improvements in security, law and order, and economic opportunities.

For these improvements to take root, the capacity of the PA must be both deepened and strengthened. To continue this impressive record of reform, the PA needs financial help, and they need it now. President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad have worked hard to lower the burden on donors, but continued progress will depend on donors meeting their commitments. The United States has and will continue to be a partner with the Palestinian people for peace, prosperity, and security.

Now many other nations, including our European partners, have contributed generously to support the PA. I call on all nations that wish to see a strong, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with its neighbors to join us in supporting the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority has proven to be a reliable partner for peace. It offers the Palestinian people the option of a peaceful, free, and prosperous future, and an end to the violence and conflict that have deprived so many Palestinians of the opportunity to fulfill their hopes and dreams and for their children to live up to their God-given potential.

So these are the goals we seek to accomplish: a comprehensive Arab-Israel peace agreement and a two-state solution. And it is our hope that this support will further conditions in which a Palestinian state can be realized.

I’m very grateful for the changes and reforms that have been instituted in the Palestinian Authority, and I look forward to continuing to work with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad on moving forward with these extremely important and critical goals. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: Thank you very much. Thank you, Madame Secretary, for taking the time to be with us today to take part in a very important event. Indeed, it is a hugely important event on at least three counts. For one, $200 million assistance package of yours represents the largest amount of external financial assistance to be made available to the Palestinian Authority in a single tranche by any donor toward any purpose since the inception of the PA, Palestinian Authority.

Second, the entire amount assistance is earmarked for budget support – the very type of external assistance we need the most, particularly at this juncture, given the severe financial difficulties that we have been facing for many months now. So your assistance couldn’t have been more timely, and it will enhance our capacity to deliver vital and needed services to our people in Gaza and in the West Bank. For all of this, we are grateful to you, Madame Secretary.

In this case, our sense of deep gratitude is matched, if not even surpassed by the by immense pride in what we have accomplished – to be worthy of the confidence of our people and the international community in the legitimacy of our financial management system. Given the very high and indeed exacting standards of accountability and transparency set forth by the U.S. Congress of aid disbursement, the fact that you have chosen to disburse the full $200 million directly to our treasury carries with it a clear signal amount of confidence in our financial systems and our financial management.

It is indeed a huge vote of confidence and one which we deeply cherish. Madame Secretary, any aid receiving country would be proud to qualify for your assistance being delivered directly to its treasury. For us Palestinians, it takes on added significance, given what it implies, in terms of our readiness for statehood and the fulfillment of our ultimate goal of living in freedom and dignity in a country of our own.

So, Madame Secretary, on behalf of President Abbas, the Palestinian National Authority, and the Palestinian people, I thank you personally. I also would like to thank President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and of course, the American people. Thank you so very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Fayyad, and I just want to underscore how much we appreciate all of the steps and changes that your government has undertaken. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: (Inaudible), thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we’ll take a question or two. Is that okay, Jake?

STAFF: Yes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: On this subject. Yes.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we’ve heard from Maliki, and perhaps Prime Minister Fayyad can speak to this as well, that as you’re – as you say, you’re making progress in creating the conditions for negotiations, that they’d like to see the Obama Administration make some kind of declaration or vision statement in terms of how you see the negotiations taking place, and your vision for a Middle East settlement so that that perhaps could, you know, get the parties onboard in terms of moving forward, that that’s what you need, and they want you to do it before Ramadan.

Do you anticipate any statement of this nature? Do you think that the Obama Administration will lay out its vision before the negotiations resume? And – because Senator Mitchell had said that he thought it would be done in weeks, not months, and we’re kind of approaching months at this point.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is one step at a time. And as you know, Senator Mitchell is back in the region having further consultations and exploring, in depth, some of the actions that are being considered. He will be in Israel in a few days, and we’re going to let the parties continue to drive this process because we want to get back to the negotiations between the two of them. The final status issues, which are obviously very important, can only be resolved by agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis. So at this point, we’re working very hard to get to that step and then we’ll see where we go from there.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Could you be a bit more specific, though, as to when you think these negotiations could begin? Are you making any progress, for example, on the settlement issues? That seems to be the key issue that’s holding this up. Are you expecting Senator Mitchell to come back with something special, something resolved there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to preempt Senator Mitchell. He is the person conducting these consultations on behalf of the President and myself. Obviously, this is very complicated work. There are lots of moving parts. So I think we’ll wait until there is some announcement to be made, and then once that happens, it will be, obviously, right to ask questions about it. But let’s let Senator Mitchell continue the important work that he’s doing.

MR. CROWLEY: Perhaps one or two more and then —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. Okay, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Madame Secretary, a large number of senior American officials are going to Israel next week to talk with senior Israeli officials. I wonder if the Administration has decided maybe this is a good time to try to ratchet down some of the tensions with the Israelis over the issues that are being discussed, led by the settlements.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when we talk with the Israelis, they are conversations between friends. I mean, we have a deep and durable relationship with Israel. It has been our commitment, no matter who is in the White House and no matter who is the prime minister in Israel. So I think that the conversations that we’re engaged in with our Israeli counterparts are very forthright, very clear that we have to work through a lot of the concerns that are expressed. Our goal is to ensure a peaceful and secure future for the Israeli people and future generations of Israelis.

So I think that there is a great deal of positive communication that is taking place. And it’s not only on the issues that Senator Mitchell is driving, but we have many interests and concerns with the Israelis that will be explored and discussed when General Jones and his delegation arrive there.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Senator Mitchell is going to Syria. Do you expect that you can make progress on the Syrian-Israeli track before the Palestinian-Israeli track?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Again, I think this is one of the issues that is being explored. As you know, we began a policy of reengaging Syria when I became Secretary of State, and working with our teams here, Jeff Feltman and others from the State Department and the White House. And we think that it’s a fruitful engagement that we intend to pursue. We have notified the Syrians that we are returning an ambassador to Damascus.

But it is just the beginning. I mean, I don’t want to leapfrog over the hard work that has to be done in working through many of the issues that are of great concern to the United States that Syria has to be willing to discuss with us and, hopefully, make some changes going forward.

So as we move through this process, we obviously will be informing you as to where we are. But I think the question of either/or track – Senator Mitchell is exploring deeply with the Syrians how they would respond to renewed negotiations with the Israelis. The timing on that, the simultaneity of it; that’s all to be determined.

Yeah, go ahead.

MR. CROWLEY: One more?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. Following up on this track, on the Syrian track and also Senator Mitchell’s visit, importantly, for a solution to be viable, other Palestinian actors will have be to involved. Syria has important sway with Hamas and other Palestinian factions. So what do you expect from the Syrians on that track, and how important is it for national unity between the Palestinians? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, the Palestinians themselves have been, as you know, meeting in Cairo over a number of months to discuss some of the challenges to unity, and I leave that to them to describe, because there are internal dynamics that have nothing to do with any other party. It’s between them.

But with respect to Hamas being a part of any negotiations, we’ve set forth the conditions that would be necessary for Hamas to meet. And they’re conditions that not only do we support, but the Quartet — the UN, EU, United States, and Russia – support, and the Palestinian Authority supports. I mean, the Palestinian Authority is working very hard, as evidenced by their reform efforts, the changes that they’ve instituted, to try to be a responsible and effective partner with Israel in any peace negotiations going forward.

So they don’t want someone at the table who doesn’t even agree with the purpose of the negotiations. So the conditions are clear – Hamas has to renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to the enforcement of prior agreements that have been entered into by the Palestinian Authority.

That hasn’t yet come to pass. But I think the path forward for Hamas is very clear. If the Syrians or anyone else can persuade them to take a positive path forward, well, clearly, I think the Palestinian Authority and others would welcome that. But at this moment, that is not yet their position.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. I leave you in the good hands of P.J. And I don’t see anybody who was on that trip with me. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, I mean, gosh, I was just looking to see who (inaudible). (Laughter.) Thank you all.

MR. CROWLEY: We can say for the record, she got off the airplane, came straight to the office. (Laughter.)

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