January 8th, 2010
06:34 PM ET
13 years ago

US launches new push for Mideast peace talks

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/01/art.hrc1201.gi.jpg caption="Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the Obama administration's plans for a new push for Mideast peace talks."]Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration is making a renewed push for Mideast peace, stepping up pressure on Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks focusing on borders of a future Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.

Doing so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, would address Palestinian concerns about Israeli settlement construction.

Previously, the Obama administration made freezing Israeli settlements in Palestinian-controlled areas its priority, an approach that only hardened both sides' resolve and stalled talks for months.

But Clinton suggested Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas drop his demand for a total settlement freeze before talks could resume.

"Resolving borders resolves settlements. Resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements," she told reporters after talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. "We need to lift our sights and instead of ... looking down at the trees, we need to look at the forest."

Echoing Clinton's comments, Judeh said, "if you resolve the question of borders, then you automatically resolve not only settlements in Jerusalem, but you identify the nature on the ground of the two-state solution and how it looks like. And then all other things fit in place."

Judeh said a peace process could not be "open-ended," but should have a timeline. Absent a quick agreement, he warned, "we will witness further regional instability and divisions that extremists will exploit, not only in the Middle East, but worldwide."

Clinton later met at the State department with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence head Omar Suleiman.

"We are coming to try to regenerate enough energy and to create enough momentum for a peace effort and it is crucial that we would win," Aboul Gheit told reporters before sitting down with Clinton.

In a further sign of the renewed US push to revive talks, Mideast Envoy George Mitchell is headed to Europe next week and to the region later this month.

In a television interview this week with Charlie Rose, Mitchell said he was carrying some new ideas to jumpstart negotiations over a Palestinian state within two years.

"What we're going to tell them that we think the time has come to enter negotiations," he said. "We will lay out what we think is a proper basis for doing so, a timeframe for achieving agreement, a method of negotiating that we think will achieve the desired result."

Mitchell's travel comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the Middle East. Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal have all recently traveled to Egypt for talks with President Hosni Mubarak, all in an effort to jumpstart peace negotiations.

A senior Arab diplomat briefing reporters said the Arab world sensed a "new momentum," both in the United States and in the region, to reach an agreement.

"We want 2010 to be the year of peace," he said.

He said Arab states are looking for the US to provide "terms of reference" for how it views a peace deal, nothing that President Obama promised to take a leadership role in ending the conflict.

"Not just an honest broker, but an arbiter, and arbiters have opinions," said the Arab diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the diplomacy.

US and Arab officials said the United States is examining what types of assurances it might provide the parties to get them back to the table, possibly in the form of letters.

While not directly referring to such letters, Clinton said ending the conflict would require "guarantees and assistance" from the United States and others.

Clinton also reaffairmed the US position that an eventual Palestinian state should be based on the borders prior to the 1967 war in which Israel occupied the West Bank. She said she could envision a peace deal that "reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure ... borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Middle East • State Department
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Lex Icon

    Here's a radical idea. Honor the original U.N. plan, hammered out in 1948.

    January 8, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Reaganomics Leads To Feudalism

    As someone who conserders myself to be somewhat of a progressive, I have to say that the whoe push for middle east peace is a complete waste of time.

    The Islamic world will never accept Israel's right to exist, and Israel will never accept a Palestinian State in land they consider to be an inheritance given to them by God HImself.

    How long have we been at this?

    January 8, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. Bob

    If anyone can get the jobs done, it's Hillary!

    January 8, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. Albo58

    Here's an idea: STOP FLUSHING TAXPAYER DOLLARS DOWN THE DRAIN! Our policy should be no foreign aid unless continuous progress is made at the peace table PERIOD!

    January 8, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. CJ/PA

    I am so glad to hear this news. If the Middle East problems are resolved, so much of the World's problems will be made better. This should continue to be a No. 1 priority of this Administration. Hillary should take Bill with her since he almost had it accomplished during his term, and we should use everything resource available!

    January 8, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. vwrtb

    What ever happened to invading a country based on lies and wire tapping each other... Silly dems...

    January 8, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. aware

    Don't muddy the water Hillary. The Jihadists have declared war on anyone who does not agree with them, and their first target is the world's weakening super power! 🙁

    January 8, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Israel will continue to build......

    and the Palestinians will never have Jerusalem.......negotiations must start with those two givens.......

    January 8, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  9. terry,va

    Here we go again. Let's go off on another wild goose chase. This has to be 30th on the priority list to anyone that has sense. Obummie quit the stupidity and look at Iran and Israel. I hope you decide what to do with the Iranians other than give a BIG,BIG speech as you always do saying time is running out. You got that right, but it wouldn't be your action that causes a reaction. Get in the game or strike 3. Quit talking and do something.

    January 8, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  10. Give it up Hillary........

    as long as Iran pledges to wipe Israel off the face of the earth...your mission is hopeless.......find something else to do......

    January 8, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. pathwalker

    Both parties in the Mid-East conflict cling to stances rooted in lies and distortions of the truth. Until one or both parties acknowledge this, there cannot be lasting peace in that region. Israelis claim that their "right to a homeland," is rooted in a Divine promise, and Palestinians say the land belongs to them. Israelis suppress the truth that God invited the righteous among the tribes of Moses to settle on land in that region (and many did). But, the majority of them refused (and continue to refuse) to follow Divine guidance. They prefer their man-made sources like Rabbinal rulings, Mishnah, Gamarah, and the Thalmud (none are revealed scriptures). Palestinians in particular, and the Muslims living in that area have discarded the divine guidance in the Quran, and substituted it with Hadith, Sunna, the "Shariah," and generations of rulings (fatwas) by their religious leaders. People, do your homework? Judaism is not the sole religion of a so-called "race," or ethnic group, and neither is Islam the province of Arabs or Arabic-speaking people.

    January 8, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  12. RAY

    We should not meddle with land that GODgave to Israel.

    January 8, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. Rick

    The Hate is to deep..Peace will never happen.

    January 8, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  14. Larry

    Israel does not care what happens to the Palestinian people

    Israel is the worst kind of Terrorist organization

    They have been stealing the Palestinian lands for 50 years, and killing it's people with sophisticated weapons provided by the US, while the Palestinians defend themselves with sticks and rocks

    The world should denounce Israel and give the Palestinians back all that has been taken from them

    If you put me in a cage and blocked me from getting the basic needs to survive, I would throw bombs over the walls as well, and justifiably

    January 8, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  15. YadVashem

    What does she mean when she says 'Resolving Jerusalem '?

    January 8, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  16. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    This should be real simple. If Israel doesn't sit down at the table and start negotiations, then cut their funding and stop selling them guns. They really don't have any choice in the matter. Both parties value land over human lives and it needs to stop.

    January 8, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  17. JonDie

    Waste of time; Israelis don't want peace, they want to kill off Palestinians.

    January 8, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. koko10

    Hillary, you make me proud to be an American. You have the job that was meant for your talents. Thank you for your service.

    January 8, 2010 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  19. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    If the U.S. would cease its unconditional support and funding of Israel until it FINALLY abides by UN Resolurion 242 that BOTH countries have ignored since 1967, perhaps Israel would cease being the world's leading "rogue nation" and belatedly choose peaceful co-existence instead of building "settlements" on lands stolen from neighbors. But with AIPAC in control of Washington, we should not hold our collective breaths,

    January 8, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  20. Keith in Austin

    Enough of the syrupy talk. Show the Muslim World some American Muscle for a change!

    January 8, 2010 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Donkey Party

    All financial aid to Israel from the US should be suspended if Israel's Right-wing government continues to use the money to build settlements on land that clearly doesn't belong to Israel. All it does is enrage the Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East because these provocative acts are being financed and essentially advocated by us. Take heed Israel, your belligerence is beginning to outweigh your strategic value.

    January 9, 2010 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
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