Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Middle East and Europe Trip: Day Two in Israel

Upon her arrival at the Ben Gurion Airport on Monday night, Secretary Clinton was met by Nitza Raz-Silbiger, Director, Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the tarmac along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel James B. Cunningham. Secretary Clinton was welcomed with a bouquet of roses upon her arrival to the King David Hotel by the General Manager, Haim Shkedi, and Sheldon Ritz, Deputy General Manager in Jerusalem. Tuesday morning, Secretary Clinton’s first stop on her official visit to Israel was at the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres. They shook hands and kissed, smiled for photos, and headed inside for their meeting inside the residence. According to the post at Dipnote, they emerged 45 minutes later and proceeded to lecterns where they made short statements to the press. View the video here or read the full text here. Their statements conveyed the seriousness of the issues that had been discussed – security, peace, the situation in Gaza – but also articulated the shared optimism of the present moment. President Peres expressed words of welcome to the Secretary on behalf of Israel and the Secretary talked about her numerous trips to Israel over the past 30 years and her close friendship with the President. Then the President Peres surprised the Secretary with a small bouquet of flowers– such beautiful photos! Watch footage of their meeting here. Hillary then held a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.View the video of their remarks here or read the full text here. Secretary Clinton then visited the Holocaust Art Museum. She visited the new Bruno Schulz display, Wall Painting under Coercion, in the Holocaust Art Museum, guided by Director of the Museums Division Yehudit Inbar and Senior Art Curator Yehudit Shendar and accompanied by Chief Rabbi Lau, Yad Vashem Council Chairman, and Middle East Special Envoy Senator George Mitchell. She stood with Rabbi Israel Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, after she signed the guest book in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial following a solemn ceremony. Secretary Clinton laid a wreath in the 'Hall of Remembrances' in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial to honor the six-million Jews exterminated by the Nazis in the Holocaust of World War II. On the floor are raises tiles in Hebrew and English giving the names of all the Nazi concentration camps where Jews were hered to and killed. The hall serves as a common cemetery for all the six-million Jews who perished. Her visit to Yad Vashem echoes that of her husband who signed the visitor's book and laid a wreath as U.S. President.Watch raw footage of Hillary laying the wreath here. She signed the guest book at the conclusion of her visit to the memorial. The final line reads, 'God bless Israel and its future.' Next up, a visit to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Residence and afterword a joint press conference. View the video here or read the full transcript here. Secretary Clinton also met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Defence Minister Ehud Bara at the King David hotel as well as posing for a photo with Israeli Prime Minister-Designate Benyamin Netanyahu before their meeting. Netanyahu has spoken of Palestinian self-government but has shied away from saying he backed a U.S. and Palestinian vision of statehood that has been at the heart of Middle East peace talks. Clinton has been adamant for Palestinian statehood saying, "We happen to believe that moving towards a two-state solution is in Israel's best interests." She has repeatedly said that Washington believed "the inevitability of working towards a two-state solution is inescapable" and that the U.S. "will be vigorously engaged" in its pursuit. Netanyahu made no mention of Clinton's call for a two-state solution when talking to the press. He said "the subject didn't come up" in the meeting." However, he did say that during their talks, he and Clinton voiced a strong desire for future cooperation and agreed that "creative thinking" was needed in moving towards peace.

Clinton held a full day of political meetings in Israel and tomorrow will go to the Palestinian Authority headquartersin Ramallah on the West Bank and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Hill2016 said...

Netanyahu will be tough to deal with. He's a right winger who has no intent in working for a two-state solution.

PYW said...

But if anyone's up to that task, Hillary is!

Sarah said...

Hill2016, I dont know too much about Netanyah but I do know he has been pretty unwilling in the past to work together.

Do you think Hill is doing a good job? I think its a big step just for them to be meeting and talking about someway to make peace.

Maybe I'm looking too much into it but even just the body language in the photos Ive seen between them is very different from those who are much more willing to work together... thoughts??

and PYW- I agree, that she is totally committed to working out whatever agreement she can. Thats our girl!

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