Posts Tagged ‘Tsipi Livni’

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

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

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Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Gaza Conference

March 3, 2009 by still4hill

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

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

Hillary Clinton With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert


Hillary Clinton with Tzipi Livni

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

Hillary Clinton with Shimon Peres


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

Hillary Clinton with Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman

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

Hillary Clinton at an Amideast Event


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

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

The Secretary’s Week in Review

Secretary Clinton: Interviews Galore!

Press Briefing on the Plane to Cairo

Secretary Clinton Remarks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Gheit

Secretary Clinton: Two Interviews

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

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

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton at 2010 AIPAC Conference


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


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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Clinton in Cairo

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

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

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Clinton: Photos of the Day

Hillary Clinton Day One Mid-East Peace Talks

Photos: Hillary Opens Mid-East Peace Talks

Video: Secretary Clinton Relaunches Mid-East Peace Talks

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

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

Where Hillary Clinton is going

From Sharm el Sheikh: Slideshow and Briefing by George Mitchell

Secretary Clinton’s Press Briefing En Route Sharm El Sheikh

Hillary in Jerusalem

September 15, 2010 by still4hill

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

Hillary Clinton in Ramallah and Amman

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

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11, 2010 by still4hill

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


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

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

George Mitchell resigned.

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

Gaza: Netanyahu and Abbas had secret meeting before ceasefire

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

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


Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>



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Well, Hillary is in the news this weekend on a variety of fronts, so I thought I would share some of what I see along with editorial comments.  (This picture has nothing to do with these stories.  I just found it and know some readers will enjoy this picture from Thursday with Pakistan’s FM Qureshi.)

First, a story completely new to me about Senator Jon Kyl (R – AZ) blocking the nomination of Raul Yzaguirre for ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a country crucial to land operations in the Haiti relief effort.  Once again The Party of NO rears its ferocious head.  Anybody who thinks Secretary Clinton has not pushed hard on these Iran sanctions (his reason for NO) must have been living under a rock for the past year plus.  You can read the story here. Kyl stymies ambassador nod over Iran

Speaking of living under a rock or on some other rock far from the sun, it was yesterday when I encountered the silly op-ed by David Ignatius dated today in the Washington Post.  Where to begin on this one? I guess here.

“…Obama is different. He truly doesn’t seem to relish politics, in the raw, mix-it-up sense. Most of all, he isn’t needy for public attention in the way our most neurotic and gifted politicians have been –“

Really? David, have you noted that the current POTUS, for weeks has been out of town fund-raising, campaigning (allegedly for Democratic party candidates, but, if you listen, it sure sounds like he is campaigning for himself), that is when he is not on vacation. Then there is this.

An interesting example of the administration’s ability to shrink large political personalities is Richard Holbrooke, the special coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Holbrooke’s garrulous style is utterly different from Obama’s, and the White House appeared to be on the verge of dumping him early this year when the secretary of state is said to have intervened. Holbrooke has been on a short leash — not making trouble, but not as effective as he might be.

Anybody listening to Holbrooke knows that his complete loyalty and deference is to Hillary Clinton whom he finds brilliant to work with. Switch THIS horse mid-course? I don’t think so. He is effective and has the utmost respect for the chain of command.

Finally, *sigh* he ends with this.

Maybe Obama, the anti-politician, really doesn’t care if he gets reelected, so long as he’s doing what he thinks is right. Somehow, I can’t imagine this breakthrough president stepping aside to write law-review articles. But to stand a chance in 2012, he’s going to need someone to light a fire under him, someone who can play politics fiercely — and also can bring in some new voters.

Surely it’s obvious that I am describing Obama’s second-term masterstroke: Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Read more>>>>

Oh, David, David, David!  Let him!  Let him not be re-elected!  And take the “Vice” off that title.  It is about time we recognize that Hillary Clinton, who is fierce on so many levels would probably not, in the second slot, be able to save the ticket.  No!  Her place is at the Top of the Ticket.  It is that or the Democrats can wave bye-bye to the Oval Office which is not, as we are seeing, a playpen.

Finally, we have this by Gil Hoffman in today’s Jerusalem PostLikud: Talks are a huge achievement. Here are a few highlights.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement on Friday that diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would resume on September 2 evoked conflicting reactions from inside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

An official Likud statement released by the head of the party’s reaction team, MK Ophir Akunis, called the American announcement on talks without preconditions a huge achievement for Israel.

This guy promises to be trouble.

MK Danny Danon heard the announcement about the planned summit in the United States, where he is seeking support from Jewish leaders and Republican politicians to oppose territorial concessions in the diplomatic process. Danon intended to start a campaign when the freeze is set to end on September 26, but he said he would have to advance his efforts.

A couple of my favs, however, are, as always, right behind our girl.

Labor chairman Ehud Barak released a statement expressing satisfaction with the beginning of the talks, which he pushed forward in many talks with American officials.

“Israel wants peace with security,” Barak said. “Both sides will have to make courageous decisions in order to reach an agreement.”

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also praised the restart of the diplomatic process. Her associates said she had pushed for a year and a half for talks to begin at the point where her own negotiations with the Palestinians (when she was foreign minister) ended due to the national election in February 2009.

“She is happy that the talks will cover all the core issues of the conflict,” a Livni associate said.

Read more >>>>

I saw a story that the lovely Secretary of State is co-hosting a birthday party for a particular former POTUS today on Long Island. Cheers! Happy Birthday (again)! I hope they have a great time and dance their shoes off!

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Remarks With Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
March 3, 2009

MODERATOR: Shalom. Welcome to the press conference of the Israeli foreign ministry. We will be hearing two statements, one by the state secretary, one by the foreign minister, and then we will be taking two questions from the Israeli press, two questions from the American press.

Madame Secretary, please, the floor is yours.

Date: 03/03/2009 Description: Remarks Secretary Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem © Photos Credit :  Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel AvivSECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be back here at the foreign ministry and to be hosted by the foreign minister. As with all my previous visits to Israel, going back nearly 30 years, I feel very welcomed by the Israeli people. And I appreciate now the opportunity to have this first visit as Secretary of State of my country, representing our new President, and to discuss with officials and friends some of the very challenging issues – a full, broad array of them – based on our close relationship.

I was privileged to start my day with President Peres, and then to pay a visit to Yad Vashem to once again pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. My visit was a powerful reminder, as it always is, of why we are working so hard to advance the peace and security of the state of Israel.

As I said this morning, President Obama and I believe that the bond between the United States and Israel, and our commitment to Israel’s security and to its democracy as a Jewish state, remains fundamental, unshakable, and eternally durable.

We had a very productive discussion today, and it was broad-ranging. We discussed, among many other things, our common commitment to a two-state solution as part of a comprehensive, secure peace with Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab neighbors. We talked about the steps that the minister has pursued and what could be done when there is a new government in place.

The first step right now, not waiting for a new government, is a durable ceasefire. But that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks. No nation should be expected to sit idly by and allow rockets to assault its people and its territories. These attacks must stop and so must the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. These activities put innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians at risk and undermine the well-being of the people of Gaza.

As we move forward, we will work together – along with the international community – to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza. We believe we can also work together to further the obligations that were entered into by the Palestinian Authority under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and help pave the way for a viable Palestinian state that can be independent, accountable, and live at peace.

That is the message that I brought to the Gaza donors conference, along with a pledge that the United States will be vigorously engaged in the pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way. Our Special Envoy Senator Mitchell is here with me today. He will be back soon, once there is a government formed. The road ahead, we acknowledge, is a difficult one but there is no time to waste.

The foreign minister and I also discussed Iran. We share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its continued financing of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. As we conduct our policy review and consider areas where we might be able to productively engage with Iran, we will stay in very close consultation with our friends here in Israel, with the neighbors of Iran in the region and beyond with those countries that understand what a threat Iran poses today, and what a greater threat it would pose were it ever to be successful in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

As I pledge again today, and as President Obama has said, we will do everything necessary to ensure Israel’s security now and into the future.

I will later today meet with the prime minister-designate, with the defense minister, and with the prime minister, and will be engaging with them on a full range of the issues that we – both of our countries –care so much about.

We believe that working together as friends and partners with patient, determined, persevering diplomacy, we can help advance the cause of peace and security here in Israel and throughout the region. So again, Madame Minister, thank you so much for hosting me here today.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. It is an honor for us, for all of us, to welcome you to Israel. I mean, Secretary Clinton is a good friend of Israel and has shown this deep understanding of the needs of Israel, the understanding of the nature of the threats that we have here in the region, and shown this kind of friendship and understanding – an understanding in many positions that you had in the past.

There are new administrations in the United States of America and, of course, a new government in Israel that is going to be formed during the next few days. But it is not less important to (inaudible) to emphasize that the relationship between Israel and the United States of America are based on the same values, the understanding of the interests, the threats, and the way to confront and to meet these challenges together (inaudible) parties and governments. And this is based on the understanding of the nature of the values.

The United States of America is the leader of the free world. It leads the battles which are needed against extremism, and represents the same values that are the basic values of the United States of America. And Israel, I would say, proud to be or to represent these values here in the Middle East. According to these values and the need to fight anti-Semitism, I would like to express not only the government appreciates them, but the people of Israel’s appreciation to the standing that you took against the participation in Durban. This demonstrates the values of the United States of America. It was a symbolic decision, and I hope to see more states who are going to follow this decision. And I would like to thank you personally for this.

According to these values, there is an understanding between Israel and the United States of America that the division in the region is between extremists and moderates, and there’s a need to act according to a dual strategy. On one hand, to confront terror, to act against extremism that is being represented here in the region by Iran, who poses these threats trying to pursue a weapon – a nuclear weapon and expresses its extreme ideology, which is not connected in any way to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We have Hamas within the Palestinian Authority that controls Gaza Strip and targets Israel on a daily basis. And Israel is working according to this dual strategy: on one hand, to confront terrorism, and when the state of Israel is being targeted (inaudible) as a government, any government, is to fight back and to use military forces when it comes to Gaza Strip.

On the other hand, there’s a need – not less important – to continue the peace process between Israel and the legitimate Palestinian Government, according to the vision of two states for two people, that represent the interests of Israel and the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and represents the idea of living – at the end of the day, living together in peace in this region.

Since a new government in Israel is going to be formed, I am sure that part of the process is going to be sitting together, sharing the evaluation of the situation in the region, not only the nature of the threats, but what are the right things to do in order to address this. And when – according to the shared policy, I do believe that it’s not only about sharing the same values, but also a basic understanding of what need to be done in order to address the threats and the challenges in the region. And we had very fruitful and enlightening discussion, until now, and thank you.

MR. WOOD: The first question will be to Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madame Minister, can we ask you (inaudible) foreign minister, did you present –

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Andrea Mitchell from NBC. Foreign Minister, did you present Secretary Clinton a series of red lines, conditions that Israel would want to insist on before the United States engages with Iran – conditions such as a time limit on such talks and tougher sanctions before talks would begin?

Could we ask you also, Secretary Clinton, whether those red lines were presented to you? And could we also ask whether the Obama Administration has expressed a willingness, or is willing, to give up the deployment of missile defense in Eastern Europe if Russia is helpful in persuading Iran to back down on any nuclear ambitions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We had a very broad discussion about Iran, and we will continue those discussions. There is an understanding that we share about the threat that Iran poses. We intend to do all that we can to deter and to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. That is our stated policy. That is the goal of any tactic that we employ.

When we talk about engagement with Iran, do not be in any way confused. Our goal remains the same: to dissuade and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and continuing to fund terrorism. It happens to be a goal that is shared not only with Israel, but with many countries that view Iran through the same prism that we do. And as President Obama has said in his inaugural address, we will stretch out our hand to any country that unclenches its fist. But that is yet to be seen. Whatever we do will be done thoughtfully, in consultation with our friends and allies –
most particularly Israel.

With respect to Russia, we are at the beginning of our engagement with Russia on behalf of this new government. I had a chance to meet briefly yesterday at Sharm el-Sheikh with the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. I will be meeting with him at length in Geneva on Friday night. We have a very broad agenda also.

What we have said specifically in regard to missile defense in Europe is that it has always been intended to deter any missile that might come from Iran. That’s been our stated position. That was the stated position previously and it remains our position. We have explained that to the Russians before. When I say we, I mean the American Government. And we continue to believe that we have to take all steps necessary to protect ourselves, our friends, our allies, from a potential aggressive action in the future from Iran.

But there’s a broad agenda to discuss with the Russians, and we’re going to be starting that on Friday.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Okay, thank you. I would like to add on the Iranian issue. I mean, it’s not about red lines, but it’s about sharing the same perspective about the nature of the threat and how to deal with it. But it is not less important to understand that Iran is not only the problem (inaudible). I mean, this is a global threat. And I’m sure that Secretary Clinton, coming from Egypt right now after hearing the perspective of other states in the region, including other Muslim and Arab states, understands today that they feel that Iran is (inaudible) enemy and not Israel anymore. And they feel that Iran tried to undermine their own regime. Iran works with radical elements within their own states, and Iran represents an ideology which is not (inaudible). It’s not a conflict on borders or something; it’s an extreme religious ideology that tries to deprive us from our rights. And it’s not only about Israel living in peace in the region, but about the entire region. And nobody – really nobody wants to see Iran getting a nuclear weapon. So this is the basic understanding in the world.

Secondly, there is an understanding that time is of the essence. I mean, while we are talking here, Iran tries to continue and to pursue the weapon in order to express its horrific ideology. So there is an understanding that time is of the essence.

Clearly, there is another understanding that sanctions are effective, but they were not effective enough, because unfortunately, the need to have a consensus with the entire international community led to some compromises in the past about the nature of the sanctions. And the United States of America is the leader of the free world. According to the understanding that Iran is a threat and a problem to – a global problem and a global threat, is going to take all the necessary steps in order to address this threat, according to the interest not only of Israel, but the basic interest of the United States of America. And on this, it’s a shared interest.

MODERATOR: Question for the Israeli press, (inaudible) radio.

QUESTION: Please, Secretary Clinton, we heard in more than one occasion from you statements regarding the determination of the Administration to be – to go along the lines of the two-state solution, earlier this morning, twice or three times. Do you anticipate there would be clashes or disagreements or tensions with the new administration in Israel? It’s no secret that Benjamin Netanyahu, a two-state solution is not part of his agenda. So what do you expect the relations be on that issue?

And I’d really appreciate a comment on that (inaudible), too, from Minister Livni since this is probably one of the reasons she is not joining the government.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We look forward to working with the new government when it is formed. Obviously, its formation is up to the people of Israel. The United States, regardless of our political party in the White House or in the Congress, has always worked and supported the government and the people of Israel, and we intend to continue doing so. Now, that doesn’t mean that as good friends, which we are, we might not have opinions that we will express from time to time. And certainly, having been on the receiving end, I know that Israel is not shy about expressing opinions about our policies.

I think that that’s the nature of our relationship. I think that’s one of the reasons why it is so dynamic and vibrant, is we are two vigorous democracies that have a broad range of opinions within our countries and between our countries. But that doesn’t go to the fundamental alliance that we have, which stands the test of governments coming and going, and parties, and particular policies.

It is our assessment, as I expressed yesterday and again today, that eventually the inevitability of working toward a two-state solution seems inescapable. That doesn’t mean that we don’t respect the opinions of others who see it differently. But from my perspective, and from the perspective of the Obama Administration, time is of the essence on a number of issues, not only on the Iranian threat. We happen to believe that moving toward the two-state solution, step by step, is in Israel’s best interest. But obviously, it’s up to the people and the government of Israel to decide how to define your interests.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. I would like to answer to this in Hebrew.


FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: I’m not going to embarrass you – (laughter) – or the United States of America, maybe somebody else.

(In Hebrew.)

MR. WOOD: The next question to Mark Landler, The New York Times.

QUESTION: Minister Livni, I hope you didn’t just make news, because I’m not in a good position to ask you a follow-up question. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: No, just (inaudible).

QUESTION: My question is actually to both of you, but first to Secretary Clinton. Yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh, the UN Secretary General, European leaders and others appealed to Israel to open border crossings into Gaza. The United States obviously just announced a $900 million aid package for Gaza, and there was questions raised: How does that aid get to the people who need it without open borders?

I wonder whether you raised that issue in the spirit of friends offering an opinion to a friend in your meeting with the minister. And if so, Minister Livni, what did you say to the Secretary about it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that clearly the humanitarian needs in Gaza are ones that we all are attempting to alleviate. In our discussions, the foreign minister pointed out that consistent with security, they are trying to do what they can to facilitate the transit of humanitarian goods.

It doesn’t help to have the rockets start up again. That is the double reality that we’re facing here. We have a humanitarian challenge in Gaza with a lot of innocent Palestinians in need of the help that could be provided, and Hamas decides to continue to rain rockets down on Israel.

Yesterday, in my remarks and the remarks that I made afterwards at the press event, I pointed out that it’s very difficult to solve this dilemma when Israel is still under physical attack. I certainly would appeal to the rocket launchers and their patrons to enter into a durable ceasefire and permit the humanitarian aid to flow.

At the same time, we know that the smuggling continues. We know there are certainly lots of items getting into Gaza, and there has to be a real concerted effort to try to cut off the smuggling of weapons, including rockets and other offensive weapons.

But I know that the Government of Israel and certainly the foreign minister share our concern about the humanitarian needs and are looking for a way to facilitate even greater delivery of necessary goods.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. I would like to add clearly that the crossings are open for humanitarian needs. The crossings are not closed for humanitarian needs. Israel is not trying to punish the population in Gaza Strip. We are acting against Hamas, since this is a terrorist organization, who, in a way, abuse the fact that it controls the civil population in order to target Israel, and in order to get legitimacy from the international community.

And as I said before, the only way to address the challenges in the region is to understand that Hamas represents the extremists in the region. They are not fighting for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. They are not fighting for the establishment of a state of – of the state – of the future state of Palestine, but are trying to act according to their own ideology of resistance, of acting against anyone who lives in the region not according to their own ideology.

So when it comes to the population – and Israel worked – we worked with United States of America before the conference, the donors conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, we are working with the international community in order to help the population as long as it comes through the PA, the legitimate Palestinian Authority, or through international organizations directly to the people, and doesn’t legitimize this way or the other Hamas.

Another thing which is important for us, and it is related to the crossings – not to the humanitarian aids, but through something that Hamas wants to happen from (inaudible) own political perspective – Hamas wants the crossings to be open normally in order to have a kind of mini-state, Hamastan, in Gaza Strip controlled by them. And this is something that, from our perspective, is connected to the fact that Gilad Shalit, the Israeli abducted soldier, was not released yet, and secondly, to the agreement between Israel, the PA, the United States, Europe from 2005.

MODERATOR: Last question, (inaudible) Israel Channel 10 TV.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you intend to send any of your officials from here to Damascus, perhaps? And if you do so, what’s on the agenda? And even if you do not, do you see any possibility for real progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track without any active, real progress with the Syrians? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. We are going to be sending two officials to Syria. There are a number of issues that we have between Syria and the United States, as well as the larger regional concerns that Syria obviously poses. As you know, there have been a number of members of the United States Congress who have gone to Damascus in the last weeks and months, and we had an occasion a week ago to call in the ambassador from Syria.

Yes, we’re going to dispatch a representative of the State Department and a representative of the White House to explore with Syria some of these bilateral issues. We have no way to predict what the future with our relations concerning Syria might be. Again, we don’t engage in discussions for the sake of having a conversation. There has to be a purpose to them. There has to be some perceived benefit accruing to the United States and our allies and our shared values. But I think it is a worthwhile effort to go and begin these preliminary conversations.

With respect to the Syria track, again, that will be a matter that once there is a government in Israel, it will be on the agenda that both Senator Mitchell and I have with the new government.

MODERATOR: Thank you. This press conference is over. Thank you for having attended.


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