In Washington on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set out the new
approach the US will follow in pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace, having
abandoned its earlier effort to obtain a three-month Israeli settlement freeze
that might yield new direct talks.
In an address to the Brooking
Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East policy, she urged the two sides to
set out their positions on the core issues of dispute without delay, and
promised that the US would offer its “own ideas and bridging proposals” in order
to broker an accord.
You don’t have to read secret diplomatic
cables to know that we are meeting during a difficult period in the pursuit of
peace in the Middle East...
Rather than dwell on what has come before, I
want to focus tonight on the way forward, on America’s continuing engagement in
helping the parties achieve a two-state solution that ends the conflict between
Israelis and Palestinians once and for all, and on what it will take, finally,
to realize that elusive, but essential goal.
Before I go further, I want
to offer the deepest condolences of the American people for the lives lost in
the recent fires in northern Israel. Israelis are always among the first to lend
a hand when an emergency strikes anywhere in the world. So when the fires began
to burn, people and nations stepped up and offered help. It was remarkable to
The United States will always be there when Israel is
threatened. We say it often, but it bears repeating: America’s commitment to
Israel’s security and its future is rock solid and unwavering, and that will not
For Israel and for the region, there may be no greater
strategic threat than the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran... Let me restate
clearly: The United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear
We have also stepped up efforts to block the transfer of
dangerous weapons and financing to terrorist groups like Hizbullah and
But Iran and its proxies are not the only threat to regional
stability or to Israel’s long-term security. The conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians and between Israel and Arab neighbors is a source of tension and an
obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for all the people of the region. It
denies the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and it poses a
threat to Israel’s future security. It is at odds also with the interests of the
I know that improvements in security and growing
prosperity have convinced some that this conflict can be waited out or largely
ignored. This view is wrong and it is dangerous. The long-term population trends
that result from the occupation are endangering the Zionist vision of a Jewish
and democratic state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israelis
should not have to choose between preserving both elements of their dream. But
that day is approaching.
At the same time, the ever-evolving technology
of war, especially the expanding reach of the rockets amassed on Israel’s
borders, means that it will be increasingly difficult to guarantee the security
of Israeli families throughout the country without implementing peace agreements
that answer these threats.
Continuing conflict also strengthens the hands
of extremists and rejectionists across the region while sapping the support of
those open to coexistence and cooperation. Radicalization of the region’s young
people and growing support for violent ideologies undermine the stability and
prosperity of the Middle East. The United States looks at these trends. We
reflect on our deep and unwavering support of the State of Israel and we
conclude without a shadow of a doubt that ending this conflict once and for all
and achieving a comprehensive regional peace is imperative for safeguarding
We also look at our friends the Palestinians, and we
remember the painful history of a people who have never had a state of their
own, and we are renewed in our determination to help them finally realize their
legitimate aspirations. The lack of peace and the occupation that began in 1967
continue to deprive the Palestinian people of dignity and self-determination.
This is unacceptable, and, ultimately, it too is unsustainable.
both Israelis and Palestinians and, indeed, for all the people of the region, it
is in their interest to end this conflict and bring a just, lasting, and
comprehensive peace to the Middle East based on two states for two
For two years, you have heard me and others emphasize again and
again that negotiations between the parties is the only path that will succeed
in securing their respective aspirations; for the Israelis, security and
recognition; for the Palestinians, an independent, viable sovereign state of
their own. This remains true today. There is no alternative other than reaching
I regret that we have not gotten farther faster in
our recent efforts.
That is why yesterday and today I met with Israeli
and Palestinian negotiators and underscored our seriousness about moving forward
with refocused goals and expectations.
It is time to grapple with the
core issues of the conflict on borders and security; settlements, water and
refugees; and on Jerusalem itself.
And starting with my meetings this
week, that is exactly what we are doing. We will also deepen our strong
commitment to supporting the state-building work of the Palestinian Authority
and continue to urge the states of the region to develop the content of the Arab
Peace Initiative and to work toward implementing its vision.
months, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have met face to face
multiple times. I have been privileged to be present during their meetings in
Sharm e-Sheikh, in Jerusalem, and in Washington. I have also had the chance to
talk with each leader privately.
These were meaningful talks that yielded
new clarity about the gaps that must be bridged.
sides decided together to pursue a framework agreement that would establish the
fundamental compromises on all permanent-status issues and pave the way for a
final peace treaty.
Reaching this goal will not be easy by any means. The
differences between the two sides are real and they are persistent. But the way
to get there is by engaging, in good faith, with the full complexities of the
core issues and by working to narrow the gaps between the two sides.
doing this, the parties can begin to rebuild confidence, demonstrate their
seriousness, and hopefully find enough common ground on which to eventually
relaunch direct negotiations and achieve that framework.
The parties have
indicated that they want the United States to continue its efforts. And in the
days ahead, our discussions with both sides will be substantive two-way
conversations with an eye toward making real progress in the next few months on
the key questions of an eventual framework agreement.
The United States
will not be a passive participant. We will push the parties to lay out their
positions on the core issues without delay and with real specificity. We will
work to narrow the gaps asking the tough questions and expecting substantive
answers. And in the context of our private conversations with the parties, we
will offer our own ideas and bridging proposals when appropriate.
enter this phase with clear expectations of both parties. Their seriousness
about achieving an agreement will be measured by their engagement on these core
First, on borders and security. The land between the Jordan
River and the Mediterranean is finite, and both sides must know exactly which
parts belong to each. They must agree to a single line drawn on a map that
divides Israel from Palestine and to an outcome that implements the two-state
solution with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The
Palestinian leaders must be able to show their people that the occupation will
be over. Israeli leaders must be able to offer their people internationally
recognized borders that protect Israel’s security. And they must be able to
demonstrate to their people that the compromises needed to make peace will not
leave Israel vulnerable. Security arrangements must prevent any resurgence of
terrorism and deal effectively with new and emerging threats. Families on both
sides must feel confident in their security and be able to live free from
Second, on refugees. This is a difficult and emotional issue, but
there must be a just and permanent solution that meets the needs of both
Third, on settlements. The fate of existing settlements is an
issue that must be dealt with by the parties along with the other final-status
But let me be clear: The position of the United States on
settlements has not changed and will not change. Like every American
administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued
We believe their continued expansion is corrosive
not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel’s future
And finally, on Jerusalem, which is profoundly important for
Jews, Muslims, and Christians everywhere. There will surely be no peace without
an agreement on this, the most sensitive of all the issues. The religious
interests of people of all faiths around the world must be respected and
protected. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties should
mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations for both parties, for
Jerusalem, and safeguard its status for people around the world.
we engage both sides on the core issues with an eye toward eventually restarting
direct negotiations, we will deepen our support of the Palestinians’
state-building efforts. Because we recognize that a Palestinian state achieved
through negotiations is inevitable.
I want, once again, to commend
President Abbas and Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad for their leadership in this
effort. Under the Palestinian Authority’s two-year state-building plan, security
has improved dramatically, services are being delivered, and the economy is
It is of course true that much work remains to reverse a long
history of corruption and mismanagement. But Palestinians are rightfully proud
of the progress they have achieved, and 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.” The United States is
continuing our efforts to support this important work... Last month I was
pleased to announce the transfer of an additional $150 million in direct
assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
This fall, to cite one example,
American experts in partnership with the Palestinian Water Authority began
drilling new and muchneeded wells in Hebron. And with recent Israeli approvals,
we soon will begin several water infrastructure projects in Gaza that the
Palestinian Authority has identified as priorities. These and other efforts to
expand wastewater treatment and provide sanitation services have already helped
12,000 Palestinian families gain access to clean water.
The United States
is working with the Palestinian Authority, with Israel, and with international
partners to ease the situation in Gaza and increase the flow of needed
commercial goods and construction supplies while taking appropriate measures to
ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands. We are pleased with Israel’s recent
decision to allow more exports from Gaza which will foster legitimate economic
growth there. This is an important and overdue step, and we look forward to
seeing it implemented...
Security is one area where the Palestinian
Authority has made some of its most dramatic progress. I have seen it myself on
recent trips to the West Bank, where well-trained and well-equipped Palestinian
security forces stood watchful guard. Families in Nablus and Jenin shop, work,
and play with a newfound sense of security, which also contributes to the
improved economic conditions. As the Palestinian security forces continue to
become more professional and capable, we look to Israel to facilitate their
efforts. And we hope to see a significant curtailment of incursions by Israeli
troops into Palestinian areas.
BUT FOR all the progress on the ground and
all that the Palestinian Authority has accomplished, a stubborn truth remains:
While economic and institutional progress is important, indeed necessary, it is
not a substitute for a political resolution. The legitimate aspirations of the
Palestinian people will never be satisfied, and Israel will never enjoy secure
and recognized borders, until there is a two-state solution that ensures
dignity, justice and security for all.
This outcome is also in the
interests of Israel’s neighbors. The Arab states have a pivotal role to play in
ending the conflict. Egypt and Jordan in particular have been valuable partners
for peace. In the days ahead, as we engage with the parties on the core issues
and support the Palestinian people’s efforts to build their own institutions, we
will also continue our diplomacy across the region and with our partners in the
Quartet. Senator [George] Mitchell will leave this weekend for Jerusalem and
Ramallah and will then visit a number of Arab and European capitals.
message remains the same: The Arab states have an interest in a stable and
secure region. They should take steps that show Israelis, Palestinians and their
own people that peace is possible and that there will be tangible benefits if it
is achieved. Their support makes it easier for the Palestinians to pursue
negotiations and a final agreement.
And their cooperation is necessary
for any future peace between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria.
continue to support the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative, a vision of a
better future for all the people of the Middle East. This landmark proposal
rests on the basic bargain that peace between Israel and her neighbors will
bring recognition and normalization from all the Arab states.
It is time
to advance this vision with actions, as well as words. And Israel should seize
the opportunity presented by this initiative while it is still
In the end, no matter how much the United States and other
nations around the region and the world work to see a resolution to this
conflict, only the parties themselves will be able to achieve it.
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...
Palestinians must appreciate
Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
And Israelis must accept the
legitimate territorial aspirations of the Palestinian people. Ignoring the other
side’s needs is, in the end, selfdefeating.
To have a credible
negotiating partner, each side must give the other the room, the political space
to build a constituency for progress...
Demonizing the other side will
only make it harder to bring each public around to an eventual
To demonstrate their commitment to peace, Prime Minister
Netanyahu and President Abbas and their respective teams should ...
build confidence, work to minimize distractions, and focus on the core
questions, even in a period when they are not talking directly.
demonstrate their commitment to peace, Israeli and Palestinian leaders should
stop trying to assign blame for the next failure, and focus instead on what they
need to do to make these efforts succeed.
And to demonstrate their
commitment to peace, they should avoid actions that prejudge the outcome of
negotiations or undermine good faith efforts to resolve final-status issues.
Unilateral efforts at the United Nations are not helpful and undermine trust.
Provocative announcements on east Jerusalem are counterproductive. And the
United States will not shy away from saying so...
We will push the
parties to grapple with the core issues. We will work with them on the ground to
continue laying the foundations for a future Palestinian state. And we will
redouble our regional diplomacy.
When one way is blocked, we will seek
another. We will not lose hope and neither should the people of the
A just and lasting peace will transform the region. Israelis
will finally be able to live in security, at peace with their neighbors, and
confident in their future. Palestinians will at last have the dignity and
justice they deserve with a state of their own and the freedom to chart their
own destiny. Across the Middle East, moderates and advocates of peace and
coexistence will be strengthened, while old arguments will be drained of their
venom and the rejectionists and extremists will be exposed and
Excerpted from the secretary’s December 10 address to the