US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that she did not expect any
change in the situation of jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987. He was sentenced to
life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations
that that is going to change,” Clinton said.
Her comments on Pollard came
at a press conference following a day of a marathon talks with Israeli officials
in Jerusalem. During her visit, Clinton was met by protesters calling for
Referring to Iran at the press conference, Clinton
said the US will “use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from
obtaining nuclear weapons.”
Clinton said that Iran was one of the focuses
of her talks, and said the US will continue to rally the international
community, and Tehran is now under greater pressure than ever. This pressure,
she said, will increase. She said her consultations were part of an
ongoing, in-depth dialogue with Israel.
Clinton dodged a question about
whether the administration erred by making the settlements a key issue in the
beginning of US President Barack Obama’s tenure.
The secretary of state
encouraged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a late-night meeting on Monday to
come up with a package of gestures to the Palestinians to bring them back to the
Clinton, who met Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad earlier in the day, and who met PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris
12 days ago, told Netanyahu that the duo are Israel’s best partners, and it was
not clear who may succeed them.
Clinton flew back to the US after
midnight, following her meeting with Netanyahu and a brief press
The secretary of state, who arrived Sunday evening from Cairo
where she met with the new Egyptian leadership, began a series of meetings at 9
a.m. on Monday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Subsequently, in
Jerusalem, she then met in succession with President Shimon Peres, Fayyad,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu invited his senior
ministers: Barak, Liberman, and Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon to dinner with Clinton. Before the dinner, Clinton and Netanyahu
met alone for 30 minutes.
The main four issues covered in the talks
throughout the day were Iran, Clinton’s impressions about the changes in Egypt,
the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and the ongoing violence in Syria.
Channel 2 reported that Clinton also raised the issue of Turkey, and said Israel
should work for a rapprochement with Ankara.
According to the report, the
secretary of state said the break with Turkey was harming Israel’s strategic
interests and making it hard to isolate Iran and place pressure on
In regard to Iran, Clinton told Peres – according to Israeli
officials – that Obama was committed to maintaining a wide international
coalition to prevent Tehran from gaining nuclear weapons. She said that much had
been done and that the economic sanctions would become harsher.
during a public statement she made alongside Peres, said she arrived at a
“moment of great change and transformation in the region.” She referred to this
as a time of “uncertainty, but also of opportunity,” and said that it was “in
moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We
are called to be smart, creative and courageous.”
Clinton was accompanied
on her brief visit by Wendy Sherman, the US representative at the P5+1 talks
with Iran, and US Middle East envoy David Hale.
Sherman’s presence was a
clear indication that Iran figured prominently in the talks. A senior State
Department official said just prior to Clinton’s arrival Sunday night that
Sherman would help Clinton “bring the Israelis up to speed on the latest in the
P5+1 process,” and also to talk about the “pressure side of the dual track
strategy,” a term that refers to diplomatic engagement with Iran coupled with
The official sought to create the impression that there was
nothing unusual about a parade of senior US officials that began arriving last
week, including US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, National Security
Adviser Tom Donilon and Clinton. US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is
expected in the coming weeks.
“There is nothing special about the
sequence of events other than we always have a very sort of intense case of
engagement and diplomacy with the Israelis,” the official said. He added that
the discussions about Iran with the Israelis are only about the P5+1
discussions, and the sanctions.
“It is not about anything beyond that,”
he said, in an obvious effort to deflate the idea that perhaps the sides were
talking about military action. The discussions with Israel, he said, are “where
we think we are in the diplomacy and where we think we are on the pressure
track, and what next steps we can take on each and what the Israeli assessment
is on each track.”
The official said that regarding coordination on Iran,
the intense pace of engagement with Israel “matches the intensity and urgency of
the issue,” and is “similar to the type of engagement that we have with our
other close allies, including the British and French, on this
Britain and France, along with Germany, China, and Russia, make
up the P5+1 with the US.
On the Palestinian issue, the official said that
Clinton’s meetings in Jerusalem, coupled with the meeting she had with Abbas in
Paris, will allow her to “take stock and assess how the US can support next
steps in the process.”
Asked what the administration felt it has
accomplished in four years of working on the diplomatic process, the office said
that it was obvious Clinton would have liked to be coming to Israel now to sign
a peace deal.
“We would have liked to have done that two years ago,” he
said. “The fact that we’ve been unable to do so is a testament to the
difficulty of the challenge. But the fact that we’re still at it is a testament
to just how important the issue is to us and to her personally.”
said that Clinton did not carry new ideas that could pave the way for the
resumption of the peace talks with Israel.
After the meeting between
Clinton and Fayyad, a PA official in Ramallah said that the talks focused on the
Palestinian Authority’s demand for additional weapons to its security forces in
the West Bank and the release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
PA is demanding the release of Palestinians who were imprisoned before the
signing of the Oslo Accords and permission to import weapons before its leaders
agree to return to the negotiating table.
Abbas, who met with Clinton in
Paris last week, presented his demands to the Obama Administration and requested
that Washington exert pressure on Israel to respond favorably.
official did not say whether Clinton relayed a reply to Fayyad from the Israeli
government to the PA demands. However, the official pointed out that Clinton did
not carry new ideas that could facilitate the resumption of the peace
“We don’t expect a breakthrough as the Americans are too busy
with their presidential election,” the PA official told The Jerusalem Post.
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