Clinton: 'This is the time, and these are the leaders'

After meeting Peres in J'lem, US secretary of state says PM, Abbas are serious about peace; trilateral meeting set for later in day.

311_ Hillary Clinton hand gesture (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_ Hillary Clinton hand gesture
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmord Abbas are "getting down to business" and have started to "grapple with the core issues that can only be solved in face to face negotiations," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in Jerusalem. Clinton's comments came after a meeting with President Shimon Peres.
Clinton, who arrived from Sharm e-Sheikh where she took an active part in the Netanyahu-Abbas talks, said the US will stand by the two men as they make difficult decisions, and "we will be an active and sustained partner throughout the process."
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"This is the time, and these are the leaders," said Clinton, added that she believes the two are "serious" about reaching an agreement.
"Thankfully," Clinton said, "we now have with Prime Minister Netanyahu a leader who understands how important it is to move forward, and as he has said, we also have a Palestinian president who shares that determination."
Netanyahu, at the relaunch of direct talks in Washington earlier this month, called Abbas his "partner in peace."
Peres expressed his belief that the current round of talks is not merely history repeating itself. Peres said that the conflict had changed from one between Palestinians and Israelis to one in which one country, Iran, wanting to attain "hegemony in the region," is using terrorism against everyone else. He added that the peace talks have thus far gone much better than the skeptics expected.
Peres also noted Israel's improved relations with neighboring Arab countries differentiating the current peace talks from past, failed negotiations.
While in meeting Peres, Clinton met someone who agrees with the assumptions of the current diplomatic process, she will likely have a very different experience in the afternoon when she meets Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has said frankly that he does not think the process will work, and that a peace agreement with the Palestinians is not likely in this generation or the next.
After Lieberman, Clinton will also meet Defense Minister Ehud Barak. She will then meet Netanyahu, and likely take part in the meeting in the evening between Netanyahu and Abbas at the Prime Minister's residence. staff contributed to this report