Hillary Clinton face and flag 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recommitted the US to
the peace process Friday night and said the US might offer its own
bridging proposals, after efforts to break a stalemate in negotiations
faltered earlier this week.
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“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,”
Clinton said at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum dinner. “When
one way is blocked, we will seek another. We will not lose hope and
neither should the people of the region.”
She noted that she shares “the deep frustrations” of so many invested in
the peace process who have been concerned at its foundering in recent
But she said the US would be consulting assiduously with the parties to try to reignite direct talks.
Defense Minster Ehud Barak, who spoke after Clinton at the Saban dinner,
also pledged to continue pursuing peace, stating that the contours of a
two-state solution were well-known and going further than Clinton into
the details of final status issues that have long rocked the process.
On Jerusalem – perhaps the most vexing issue – he described a solution splitting the city.
He said the issues would be discussed last and resolved along the lines
of the Clinton parameters, namely “western Jerusalem and the Jewish
suburbs for us, the heavily populated Arab neighborhoods for them, and
an agreed upon solution in the ‘Holy Basin.’”
There had been some speculation that during Friday’s address, Clinton
would lay out a more concrete American vision for the outcome of the
process. But the closest Clinton came to such a statement was that the
US would continue consulting with both sides and that “in the context of
our private conversations with the parties, we will offer our own ideas
and bridging proposals when appropriate.”
While Clinton listed Jerusalem as a final status issue that would need
to be addressed by the sides, she was more circumspect in possible
prescriptions. But on another significant issue – settlements – she
stressed American opposition.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity,” she
said. “We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to
peace efforts and the two-state solution, but to Israel’s future
The Palestinians have refused to hold direct talks so long as Israel
does not renew a moratorium on settlements which expired in late
September. Since then the US and Israel have been working on a deal
which would give Israel incentives for a 90-day extension, but that deal
fall apart earlier in the week.
Still, Clinton warned the sides against thinking that the relative lull
in violence and prosperity means a political solution isn’t necessary.
“I know that improvements in security and growing prosperity have
convinced some that this conflict can be waited out or largely ignored,”
she said. “This view is wrong and it is dangerous.”
She spoke of the “unacceptable” and “unsustainable” status quo which has
continued “to deprive the Palestinian people of dignity and
Clinton declared that “a Palestinian state, achieved through
negotiations, is inevitable” and the US would continue pushing for its
However, she disparaged efforts on the part of Palestinians to have statehood declared at the UN.
“Unilateral efforts at the United Nations are not helpful and undermine
trust. Provocative announcements on East Jerusalem are
counterproductive,” she said. “And the United States will not shy away
from saying so.”
“She’s recommitted the administration to [achieving] a comprehensive
peace agreement in a very short timeframe,” said Robert Danin, a former
deputy envoy to the Quartet deputy now with the Council on Foreign
Relations, who attended the Saban dinner.
He warned, “It’s dangerous if expectations are maintained at a high level if these goals aren’t realized.”
Clinton met with Barak, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Palestinian
Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and chief Palestinian negotiator
Saeb Erekat as part of her diplomatic outreach to rejigger the talks. US
Mideast envoy George Mitchell is headed to the region next week to
continue the effort.