Hillary to talk about Arab state obligations in peace process


On Monday, Jewish leaders asked President Obama why there had been so much attention on the Israeli settlements issue and much less on the obligations of the Palestinians and Arab states toward the peace process. Obama reportedly replied that it was the media coverage that had focused on the "man-bites-dog" story of a U.S. president pressuring Israel, and assured the group that he was expecting the Palestinians and the Arab states to take certain steps as well.

While Obama is correct that the media finds the settlement issue more interesting, the administration also has been much less vocal in public statements about the actual obligations of the other side. (Just one example was the Cairo speech, in which Obama specifically mentioned settlements but was far less specific about the concrete actions the Arab world or the Palestinians needed to take.) Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will start to rectify that imbalance with a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations. Greg Sargent at The Plum Line has an excerpt of what the secretary of state will say about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Here’s some of that excerpt:

We have been working with the Israelis to deal with the issue of settlements, to ease the living conditions of Palestinians, and create circumstances that can lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. For twenty years, American administrations have held consistent positions on the settlement issue. And while we expect action from Israel, we recognize that these decisions are politically challenging. And we know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States –- or Israel -– alone. Ending the conflict requires action on all sides. Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel’s place in the region. The Saudi peace proposal, supported by more than twenty nations, was a positive step. But so far, those who embrace it seem unwilling to do anything until the Israelis and Palestinians reach an agreement. This may be understandable, but it is not helpful. Anwar Sadat and King Hussein crossed important thresholds, and their boldness and vision mobilized peace constituencies in Israel and paved the way for lasting agreements. By providing support to the Palestinians and offering a concrete opening, however modest, to the Israelis, the Arab states could have the same impact. So I say to all sides: You can’t claim to be sending messages of peace until you also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict.

The Associated Press has another part of the speech, in which Clinton says Iran has limited time to accept U.S. engagement.

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