Clinton: Israel and PA Must Negotiate Directly
US Secretary of State expresses support for two-state solution
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume direct negotiations Thursday, declaring that unilateral action cannot act as a substitute for dialogue on the conditions of a two-state solution, according to Ynetnews.
“The United States believes there is no substitute for direct talks between the parties,” Clinton said during a press conference in Denmark. “It is the only route to achieving what has long been not only a Palestinian goal and an American goal, but an Israeli goal, which are two states living side by side in peace and security.”
Clinton’s comments were made as Israel released the bodies of 91 terrorists to the Palestinian Authority, in an effort to encourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel.
“We believe that there is opportunity for direct negotiations. And we hope it was enhanced by the release of bodies today by the Israelis of Palestinians... as a sign of confidence building,” said Clinton. “But they need to get to the table and start dealing with all the very hard issues we know have to be resolved.”
On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel’s unity government formed last month presents an opportunity to “lead a political process” by the parties, which must try to address all core issues to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Israel must consider “a temporary arrangement or even a unilateral step” in the West Bank should that political process fail, said Barak.
“We have discouraged unilateral action from both sides,” said Clinton. “We think that this new coalition government in Israel provides the best opportunity in several years to reach such a negotiated agreement.”
Clinton said that the coalition is built on four pillars, “and one of them was pursuing the two-state solution.”
Peace talks between Israel and the PA have been suspended since September 2010. Abbas has demanded that before negotiations resume, Israel must first recognize a Palestinian state defined by pre-1967 borders and halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
“In recent weeks, I’ve called both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas urging them to take this opportunity, to use this new opening that has come about because of the broad coalition that now exists that has pledged itself to pursuing a negotiated resolution,” said Clinton. “And we’re going to continue to urge them to do so.”