May 20th, 2009
06:59 PM ET
14 years ago

Clinton calls for an end to Israeli settlement activity, urges Arabs to take steps towards peace

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling on all sides to move toward Middle East peace. "]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday Israel must halt settlement activity and Arab nations must move toward peace with Israel as the Obama administration prepares to lay out its vision for the Mideast.

"It is clear that the settlement activity has to cease," Clinton said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Her comments come on the heels of a visit to Washington this week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in advance of a visit next week by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also was scheduled to visit Washington next week but postponed his trip Wednesday after the death of his grandson.

After the series of meetings, President Barack Obama is expected to lay out his vision for Mideast peace negotiations when he addresses the Muslim world in a speech in Cairo next month.

Clinton said that during Netanyahu's visit, she and Obama reaffirmed the administration's desire for a two-state solution and emphasized negotiations on a deal must must begin with an end to settlement activity.

Not only does settlement activity "change the reality" on the ground, which in turn interferes with negotiations on a final peace deal, it also is "a matter of great symbolic concern" to the Arab world.

Clinton told Senators the United States is trying to advance the Arab Peace Initiative. The plan, proposed by then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in 2003 and endorsed by the Arab league, envisions all Arab states normalizing relations with Israel after Israel returns all territory it considers occupied Arab land.

The Obama administration, Clinton said, wants both Israel and the Arabs to both take interim "confidence-building steps," including recognition of Israel's right to exist and economic exchanges between Israel and Arab nations.

CNN has previously reported the United States has suggested that if Israel takes steps to halt settlement activity or removes outposts, the Arabs should take moves such as opening trade offices in Israel or allowing telecommunications and air travel between Israel and Arab countries.

Clinton said Mideast envoy George Mitchell has "a long list" of the "kinds of actions being sought," but she added the steps would be the product of "intense negotiations" between the United States and Arab states, which will begin next week.

"There is openness to proceeding, but it is an openness that requires on all sides an evidence of good faith and putting ideas down on the table which people can evaluate," Clinton said.

She said Arabs share Israel's concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions, presenting an opportunity for cooperation.

"At this time in history there is a meeting of the minds of the threat posed by Iran and the importance of working in tandem," she said. "But ... in order for us to move forward, it cannot be either or."

The international community, she said, must work on both the Iran situation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the same time, "and that is what we intend to do."

Filed under: Benjamin Netanyahu • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Once You Vote Black

    Wow, look at those fat cheeks. But she is right. The Jews have been sucking my Pals dry for long enough. They should be fair and give the Palestinians a home land.

    May 20, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. Once You Vote Black

    The Palestinians are people too. The Jews are doing to them what Hitler did to the Jews. If they want help from us then we ought to make them act fair to the Palestinians. Actually the Brits started all of this we ought to let them spearhead the issue.

    May 20, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. Rufus

    Lots of luck on this issue motor mouth woman ! A several thousand year old war just ain't gonnabe solved especially by you!

    May 20, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. ray ray

    Funny... it's always ISRAEL that make the "good faith" gesture.

    How about this Administration call for Arab countries to IMMEDIATELY recognize Israel's right to exist and to rebuke all who call for the destruction of the Jewish State!

    But... it seems much easier for this Administration to pressure Israel than ask Islamic countries to simply respect Israel fundamental right to exist.

    May 20, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. notjustme

    As long as Hamas and Fatah,two terrorists groups are still in power there will never be peace.These two groups must be destroyed, replaced by a government that wants to live in peace with Israel.

    May 20, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Naqib

    Carters second term...

    May 20, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Mario

    Cliton needs to shut up!

    May 20, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Neil

    Nothing like a missile test from Iran to throw a wrench in the works. Hillary has her work cut out for her just keeping Israel from taking out the whole program in Iran. I can't remember ever hearing such a tone of cooperation from Netanyahu. If she can get Egypt back on board, real progress might be made.

    May 20, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Matt

    Yeah good luck getting Israel to do what they are told.

    May 20, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. rachel

    I know the haters will come but good job so far Hillary.

    May 20, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  11. Terry from Texas

    Religious fundamentalist of the middle eastern religions are the source of much of the problems in our world. I refer, of course, to the fundamentalist lackwits of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Most Jews, Christians, and Muslims are rational and want only to be happy and raise happy children. The fundamentalists, however, are hell bent on remaking us all in their image or destroy the world in the effort.

    I am stumped. I have no idea how to deal with these highly dysfunctional fundamentalist personalities in our midst.

    May 20, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "in order for us to move forward, it cannot be either or"

    See that GOP? The world's NOT black and white.

    May 20, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. Unfortunately

    As long as our gov't policies are one sided towards Israel nothing will ever change.

    May 20, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Ted Tartaglia

    The Israelis have promised to halt building settlements for years. It is time for them to live up to their promises if they really want peace.

    May 20, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. Gary

    I would give every palestinian money to buy a house and an american made car if they would be willing to move to Jordan. If you give them enough help, most would take it. There would be no one left in the occupied territories to fight.

    May 20, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. Steve, New York City

    Ahhh – what will those swell guys at the AIPAC say about this: "anyone who is against Israeli settlement expansion is an anti-Semite?" Come on Zuckerman and co, time to stop the nonsense (or does US mideast policy serve only extreme right-wing elements among the Israeli settlers?)

    May 20, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. Muhammed Rosenburg

    "Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends"

    May 20, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  18. WIlly Brown

    Been saying that for the last 7 years while you democrats were bashing Bush for trying to do the same chick.

    May 20, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |