Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hillary Clinton: U.S. criticism on Settlements, Jerusalem will not stop

(JTA, Jpost) -- The United States will not shy from criticizing the sides in Israeli-Palestinian talks when they take unilateral actions, including when Israel builds in eastern Jerusalem, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday night at the annual Saban Forum

"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."

Clinton's remarks were her first on the matter since the United States announced Monday that it was giving up its effort to get Israel to extend a freeze on settlement building, effectively abandoning for now the prospect of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.

One government official said that Clinton’s clarity in saying that there should be no imposed solution was one of three important elements Jerusalem saw in her speech.

The second element, the official said, was her stressing that future borders must “protect Israel’s security” – diplomatic code for not insisting that Israel had to return to pre-1967 lines, which are widely deemed by the government as indefensible.

“Israeli leaders must be able to offer their people internationally recognized borders that protect Israel’s security,” Clinton said.

“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.”

And third, the official said, Israel was pleased that Clinton said that the core issues must be dealt with together, not separately. Israel has adamantly opposed Palestinian demands that the issue of borders be decided within 90 days, without tackling at the same time the security arrangements – the disarmament of a Palestinian state, and an IDF presence on the Jordan River – that Jerusalem deems will be necessary to enable any Israeli withdrawal.

Clinton said the core issues – borders and security, settlements, water, refugees and Jerusalem – are “woven together. Considering the larger strategic picture makes it easier to weigh the compromises that must be made on both sides and see the benefits to be gained. We are not moving forward in a vacuum.”

Clinton, during her address, recommitted the US to the peace process and said it might offer its own bridging proposals.

“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 region.”