Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Middle East and Europe Trip: Palenstine

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Palestinian students at the English Access Microscholarship program in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Read her remarks afterward here or view the video here. Love the "Women's history" written on the board behind Hill...

The Secretary is welcomed by the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. They sat down together to engage in talks.

Then she arrived for a meeting with the Palestinian President. View video here. She chats President Mahmoud Abbas, before a beautiful mosaic of the Dome of the Rock, as she arrives in the 'Muqata,' also called the Palestinian Authority headquarters. The hold a joint press conference in the 'Muqata.' She again stressed the U.S. will do everything possible to make peace in the region and that both she and special envoy George Mitchell will engage both the Israelis and the Palestinians to move the peace process forward.

In recent days, Israel has issued orders for the demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem. Israel says the homes were built illegally. Palestinians argue they cannot receive proper building permits from Israeli authorities, and this is simply Israel's means of asserting control over the disputed city. Clinton openly disapproved of Israel's plans to demolish homes, calling it a violation of its international obligations under the 'road map' to peace and 'unhelpful' to all Middle East peace efforts. She said she would take up the issue with the incoming Israeli government, which is expected to take office in the coming weeks. This is the first indication that the Obama administration is willing to confront Israel's new leaders over their cooperation in the peace process.

She also offered strong support for Abbas and pushed hard to restart peace talks with Israel. During the joint press conference she said that the Palestinian Authority is the "only legitimate government of the Palestinian people." Abbas has worked for a year trying to create peace talks with Israel but has failed. As a result, he has lost support of his people and it is widely seen that Hamas is emerging stronger from the recent attacks.

There has been much criticism over whether or not there can actually BE a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflicts. I, of course, feel like Hillary is making bold strides toward the beginning of this process to say the LEAST. I don't think it can happen overnight or just by one visit to the region, that's just not possible. But I do believe so far, Secretary Clinton has really stepped out and been very upfront and bold in her remarks about making peace here. I think this varies much from the previous administration. But again, I cannot say that I am not biased...

Just wondering if there are any supporters of Hill out there that think this conflict is a never ending battle that has roots that are way too deep. Anyone believe that she should not try to create peace here? Anyone... Anyone... ?

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