— by Max Samis
As part of her current overseas diplomatic trip, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently in the State of Israel, her fourth such trip during her time in office. During her visit, Clinton is expected to discuss a wide range of topics with a number of prominent Israeli leaders.
Ilon Ben Zion of The Times of Israel reported:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Israel early Monday morning for a two-day visit following a trip to Egypt. She was accompanied by US Middle East envoy David Hale and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.
Clinton met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem Monday morning and was set to hold meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day. She will also meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at her hotel in Jerusalem. This is Clinton’s fourth visit to Israel since taking office…
During her visit, Clinton is also expected to try to make inroads in restarting direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Clinton will likely ask the Israeli government to release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo peace process, and will ask President Mahmoud Abbas to refrain from requesting observer state status from the UN.
Upon landing, Clinton paid a visit to the residence of Israel President Shimon Peres, where the two leaders held a joint press conference. Barak Ravid of Haaretz wrote:
Talking to the press, Clinton said, ‘It is a time of uncertainty but also of a big opportunity in the region. At times like these friends like us need to work together in a smart, creative and courageous way…’
Following his meeting with Clinton, Peres said that, Egypt is a key state in the region and that Israel wants to uphold the peace treaty with Egypt. ‘We respect the results of the elections in Egypt, and hope for another 30 years of peace,’ he said.
Peres added that he was convinced that there is international understanding of the danger that the Iranian regime represents to the world, and highlighted that the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran have started to work.
‘I hope that Iran will return to its rich legacy and be a country that does not threaten anyone, and no one makes threats against,’ he said.
More after the jump.
Greer Fay Cashman of The Jerusalem Post also reported:
Clinton praised Peres, saying no other individual had done so much to build the alliance between Israel and the US. ‘Few people know the inextricable link between security and peace,’ she stated.
Peres was also complimentary of Clinton, referring to her as ‘a constant friend’ who is “blowing the wind of freedom all over the world.”
Peres told Clinton that he appreciated the fact that she came to Israel immediately after Egypt because Egypt is the key country in the Middle East and it depends on Egypt and Israel to continue the march of freedom for the whole of the region.
Peres reiterated what he has frequently said, that peace between Israel and Egypt has saved the lives of thousands of Egyptians and Israelis.
You can watch the video of Clinton’s remarks here or below. You can also see photos from Clinton’s visit with Peres below. The full transcript of Clinton’s remarks can also be read here.
Clinton also paid a visit to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, where she spoke with Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Speaking to the staff and families of the embassy and consulate, Clinton said:
But mostly I wanted to say thank you to all of you for the work that you do every single day here in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv supporting the extraordinarily important ties between the United States and Israel, working with the Palestinian Authority on so many of the issues that are critically important, assisting a huge number of Americans who visit this area, and of course, continuing our commitment as we seek to support a lasting peace. You are working at the forefront of one of our most important and challenging diplomatic efforts. Here in the Consulate General you are assisting with development and security, helping to build the infrastructure for a future Palestinian state. In the Embassy you’re sustaining one of our most important alliances, building the people-to-people connections that are so important to our relationship. And over the last year and a half, you’ve all continued to promote American interests amid the turbulence and unpredictable circumstances of the changes sweeping the region.
Looking at all of you is very reassuring. I read cables. I get reports. But I like seeing you in person. And it’s not just because you handle so many complex issues with great poise and professionalism, but it’s also frankly because this group represents the sort of collaboration across ethnicities and faiths that is so essential in the 21st century. It’s essential to move toward the goals of bringing people together, of finding common ground, and of building a future based on mutual respect and mutual interests…
So from President Obama and myself, thank you. Thank you for your exemplary service, your commitment, for representing the United States so well. We may not always say it, but we know it, and whenever I get a chance to say it, I try to do so because I want you to hear it: We know what you’re doing and we appreciate it very, very much.
Click here to read her full remarks.
Clinton also met with Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, discussing the various security needs facing Israel and the ongoing cooperation between the two countries. Stuart Winer of The Times of Israel, along with the AP, wrote:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday saying the bonds between Israel and America are strong.
‘The Americans consistently and constantly backup Israel’s security needs,’ Barak said in the meeting.
Clinton’s remarks from her meeting with Barak can be read here.
Clinton is also expected to attend a dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this evening, followed by a press conference in Jerusalem.
Clinton is just the latest official from the Obama administration to visit Israel, following National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and ahead of the just-announced visit by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.