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. Hugo

    You have got to be kidding me, Iranian nukes looming large on wiping out all Jews in the Holy land and Obama thinks the Israelis are gonna negotiate with Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis have been living with this type of cloaked terrorism we are now getting a slice of since the beginning of their existence. Glass makin' time!

    January 8, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Scott Stodden

    I give Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton who should have been President Of The United States all the praise in the world because without her holding down the position of Secretary Of State this country would fall apart. She is a woman of integrity, determination and compassion and if anybody can get Israel and Palestine to come to peace and agree to get along its her, she is amazing!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    January 8, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. Ridgeway

    Who will negotiate with who? Those people have been killing each other since BC. Sounds noble but Muslims ain't haven' it. Get used to it.

    January 8, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Most of our problems stem from our support of some other country. We need to stop. We cannot police all the stupid countries in this world. STOP NOW.

    Develop clean technology and get us out of W's wars, and stop all the religious crap. Jew, christian, whatever. STOP IT.

    January 8, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. unemployed by Obama

    why dont you try something you all can doo, STFU and start doing what we expect you to do, make this country more safe, you and osamabama are not the saviors, you are more a waste of speech.

    January 8, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    Better talks than bombs.

    January 8, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. Jane/Seattle

    Now if someone actually talks/does peace this could be a breakthrough! What with arms dealers everywhere in the lucrative business of killing, I won't be expecting much just yet! Perhaps, hopefully, this time could be different. Note to negotiators: Stop the conditions and just lay down the weapons of death. If only ONE side did this, some might die, but the killing could be cut in half. Note to U.S. that is for you since you are the major supplier of weapons on this planet! The key point is that sincerity, honesty, and goodwill is a MUST! Profiteering negates any claim in making such a lasting Peace. Thanks for reading. Namaste

    January 8, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Peace in the Middle East will not occur as long as the wealth of the world flows into that region to buy the oil flowing out. Ending oil dependency will cure the climate change problem, create jobs building the sustainable energy systems and end the danger of handing wealth to that region.,but as long as the Republican Party keeps supporting politicians from oil states like Texas and Alaska the leadership needed to bring peace, jobs and a clean planet will not occur.

    January 8, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. Frank

    I wish they would forget about peace in the middle east. It's just not possible. That land means TOO MUCH to TOO MANY people and nobody wants to share.

    Frank, Charlotte NC.

    January 8, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. lifelong democrat

    Mideast peacetalk got WORSE under Obama. from gaining a headway under Bush; it took many steps backward under Obama. Why would the Israelis trust Obama, he squandered their trust. It's shameful Hillary allowed herself to be used by this administration.

    You should have stayed as US Senator Hillary, your name is now tainted because of Obama. Palestinians and Israelis has lost their confidence in your words and Obama's words. If this is diversionary tactic of Obama from his botched up response to underwear bomber and gloomy unemployment, it is not working. People nowadays are more focus on jobs. 2.3 million jobs were lost last year, and will continue to increase. Where is the 6.3 million jobs Pelosi promised when she was criticising 5.7 million jobs Bush had created all the way to 2007; calling it anemic.

    If 5.7 million jobs created by Bush all the way to 2007 was anemic; job losses under Obama is close to coma, hemorrhaging in every part of the body. Lets talk about jobs Hillary, I couldn't care less about the mideast peacetalk when my family is on the verge now to apply for welfare.

    January 8, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    So what this article says is the first Obama/Clinton strategy actually made things worse. Gee, what a surprise since not counting the Bosnian sniper incident, together they had about 5 minutes of foreign policy experience.

    January 8, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  12. Everytime a Republican Attacks President Obama . . .

    A member of Al Queda smiles.

    January 8, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. manny

    Team Obama doesn't have a clue. And Clinton just wants to make the world safe for donors to her husband's cash buckets.

    January 8, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. S Callahan God help America!

    I stand with Israel.....and God's word on Jerusalem. Nothing has changed!

    January 8, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. oldtimer

    Peace will never be achieved, unless both sides have the same capabilities to depend their territory. It cannot continue to be david and goliath. Both sides need to have the capability to destroy each other before they will cease their hostilities. As long as Israel has all the power, peace will never be achieved.

    January 8, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    When pigs fly.

    January 8, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  17. Orange Curtain, CA

    Hit the root cause of fundamentalist activity and cut-off their recruitment capabilities by cutting a peace deal. Give the Palestinianians a homeland finally and make Israel give their fair share of concessions.

    January 8, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. Evelyn, SC

    How lucky are we to have such a brilliant woman as Secretary of State? She brings intelligence, knowledge, and balance to her job, and represents us with dignity. If Obama allows her to do her job, she will help make great strides in international relations. Too often, however, Obama sends another representative or envoy or whatever to try to do the job that is meant for the Secretary of State.

    January 8, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    If we'd quit wasting billions of dollars and getting ourselves immensely disliked by our blind, prejudicial, military and economic support for Israel, there'd be peace in the mid-east in six months–Israel would either have learned not to be such arrogant, aggressive, trigger-happy, boors, or it would have ceased to exist. Either way, problem solved.

    January 8, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. Auntie Sam Height

    Here's my suggestion: take a year's worth of the aid we give to I$rael and disburse it among every Palestinian and non-jewish Israeli an all-paid, five-day vacation to some tropical locale. At some point over those five days, drop nukes on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. That will definitely secure peace in the Middle East.

    January 8, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. jerry

    Go for it, Hillary. The whole loose ball of yarn can be furled back in only if the Palestine issue is resolved. We are living with the awful alternative of endlessly spreading political Islam threatening the whole whole world. And it's not just Israel, or the U.S., or even Europe at risk, but stable Arab countries, Russia, India, and even China. So many missed opportunities, failed attempts, yes. But you've got to keep at it, and that's what this administration can do. If you make real progress, all closed roads will be open for traffic again.

    January 8, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  22. Tired

    We wish Ms. Clinton all the luck. This part of the world has been at war my entire life. We hope for peace for all the people living in these countries who have known nothing but war and loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with anyone who can help to bring about peace. Political affiliation has no place in a hope for peace in the Middle East.

    January 8, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. guy from NM

    The Obama administration, is, like every other administration, giving lip service to a solution, not really doing anything about it, the Israeli settlements continue, and the Palestinian still have a corrupt "government" . The comments by Mitchell have been uttered so many times before and the Palestinians , like before will be left in the the dirt.

    January 8, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. so rich even obama couldn't hurt me but you middle class folk should worry

    if this issue is ever resolved I am sure it will not be a US president that solves it, knock yourself out guys I guess it doesn't hurt to try, I expect nothing.

    January 8, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  25. A.D.,Godinez

    Of course you have to halt the settlements to begin " real peace talks"
    The media dances around this issue, and they know it.
    Why are we not dealing with this issue head on. ?

    January 8, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
1 2