Clinton: Talks the only way to move forward toward peace

Comments follow report of PA plans to seek alternatives to direct talks, like appealing to UN or ICC and declaring Palestinian state.

hillary clinton 311 (photo credit: AP)
hillary clinton 311
(photo credit: AP)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged both Palestinians and Israelis to keep working for a two state solution, despite the recent breakdown in talks after Israel refused to extend a settlement construction freeze that ended in September and Palestinians have refused to extend peace talks since the freeze expired. Clinton's comments came at a banquet hosted by the American Task Force for Palestine.
“I cannot stand here tonight and tell you there is some magic formula that I have discovered that will break through the current impasse,” Clinton said. “But I can tell you we are working every day, sometimes every hour, to create the conditions for negotiations to continue and succeed.”
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“There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and, ultimately, for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace,” Clinton said. “That is the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national aspirations and the necessary outcome of two states for two peoples.”
Clinton's assertion that peace talks were the only way to solve the region's problems appeared to come in response to a New York Times report which said the Palestinian Authority is looking for alternatives to the stalled negotiations.
According to the Times Wednesday report, the PA leadership is considering an appeal to the United Nations, the International Court of Justice and the signatories of the Geneva Conventions to not only condemn Israel's renewed building in the West Bank, but ultimately to lead to an international declaration of a Palestinian state.
“We cannot go on this way,” said Fatah official Hanan Ashrawi, “The two-state solution is disappearing. If we cannot stop the settlements through the peace process, we have to go to the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and every international legal body.”
Ashrawi stated that Fatah was holding discussions on alternatives to the stalled peace process this week.
According to the New York Times report, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will be returning to the region soon in the hope of renewing peace negotiations.
Clinton also renewed her call for the Arabs to contribute money for Palestinian institution-building, for the Palestinians to further reduce incitement and for the Israelis to do more to ease the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.
Despite the recent difficulties, she said that she believed Israeli and Palestinian leaders were serious about peace.
“They are serious about this effort, they are grappling with the core issues,” she said. “I am convinced they want to the leaders who finally end this conflict.”
Clinton strongly condemned the burning of the warehouse of a Palestinian girls’ school in Nablus Wednesday night.
“There is never any justification for violence against civilians, and an attack against a school is particularly outrageous. These incidents cannot be tolerated,” she said. “We hope for a swift investigation. And our thoughts and prayers are with those whose families have been affected.”
Clinton was referring to an alleged arson by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.