The Israel Peace Paradox

Dome of the Rock above Western Wall.

Dome of the Rock above Western Wall.

Since its re-establishment in 1948, Israel has sought to live in peace with both its Arab citizens and its Arab neighbors. Yet, there are several biblical injunctions that are seemingly in conflict with each other regarding Israel’s responsibilities to promote and seek peace, and protect itself from its enemies. [Read more…]

Shabbat of Shalom and Reflection

shabbat_candle_lightingOn  Shabbat, I want to offer a moment to reflect on the recent tragedies and acts of horrible violence we have experienced.

The words Shamor v’Zachor (Keep and Remember) will dance in my mind as the light from the flickering flames of the Shabbat candles fill the room. It will not be a joyful beautiful dance. I will somberly reflect on what it means to remember and preserve Shabbat. So much violence, so many lives needlessly taken by fear and violence. How will I react?

I hope to rise above my own anger and frustration. Instead of hate, I want to resolve to be part of something better. I will look to my community and join with them as my community joins with others. I hope to become part of something greater that aligns with the message of hope instead of despair, of love instead of hate, of joy instead of pain. [Read more…]

Conversation for Peace – Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Roots Project: A Conversation for Peace

Currently finishing his book, Painful Hope, Ali Abu Awwad is today a leading Palestinian activist teaching his countrymen non-violent resistance, and reaching out to Jewish Israelis at the heart of the conflict. Ali has toured the world many times over, telling his riveting story of violent activism, imprisonment, bereavement and discovery of the path of non-violent resistance, a story of personal transformation.
Hanan Schlesinger is an Orthodox rabbi and teacher, and a passionate Zionist settler who has been profoundly transformed by his friendship with Ali. His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and of Zionism has been utterly complicated by the parallel universe that Ali has introduced him to.
Join Ali and Hanan,  at Melrose B’nai Israel EmanuEl at 7:45PM, as they tell their personal stories and of their efforts to build a better future for their peoples. They come with no ready peace plans in hand, but only with the conviction that human understanding and trust will be the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom and peace on that tiny sliver of land that they both call home.

 

Get to Know Israel From Inside: Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

With Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative in the Middle East nearing a conclusion, this is a great time to read My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. If you have already read it, consider reading it again.

Shavit is a Sabra, and the son and grandson of Sabras. His British great-grandfather came to Palestine as a tourist in 1897, returned home to fight for the Zionist cause, and ultimately resettled his family in Palestine.

Shavit lived through the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, and has been a kibbutznik, a soldier, and ultimately, a well-known journalist.  

Shavit carried out the direction in Genesis 13:17, and traveled the land, beginning in the steps of his great-grandfather. He interviewed both important and ordinary Jews and Palestinians, and visited sites of historic significance in the struggle between the Jews and the Palestinians.  

More after the jump.
In every page of this book, his love for the land comes forth. He asks the question, how did the best of intentions of the early settlers to live side-by-side with the Palestinians, turn into 60 years of confrontation with no apparent solution?

The book describes the massacres, the important battles, and the victories and defeats of both sides.

Shavit visited locations where Arab villages existed but do not anymore, or have been replaced by Israeli towns and cities. He visited Jewish settlements that have been, and in some instances are still, marauded. He pieced together the reasons that Palestinians departed or were driven away from them.

The title, “My Promised Land,” is misleading: After reading the whole book, “Our Promised Land” sounds more appropriate. Along with the victories and wonders Israel has accomplished, the Palestinian claim to a fair shake comes through loud and clear.

Shavit sets forth great achievements by Israel, far beyond any parallel development in Arab lands. But he also perceives several missteps. The most serious of these, Shavit explains, was the government’s decision to retain, at least for a time, the territories conquered in the Six Day War:

[F]rom the beginning Zionism skated on thin ice. On the one hand it was a national liberation movement, but on the other it was a colonialist enterprise. It intended to save the lives of one people by the dispossession of another.

In its first 50 years, Zionism was aware of this complexity and acted accordingly. It was very careful not to be associated with colonialism and tried not to cause unnecessary hardship. It made sure it was a democratic, progressive, and enlightened movement, collaborating with the world’s forces of progress. With great sophistication Zionism handled the contradiction at its core…

But after 1967, and then after 1973, all that changed… The self-discipline and historical insight that characterized the nation’s first years began to fade… You were wrong to think that a sovereign state could do in occupied territories what a revolutionary movement can do in an undefined land… Ironically, [occupation] brought back the Palestinians Ben Gurion managed to keep away.

After building a detailed history, Shavit examines Israeli society, politics, economics, government, and the competing positions between Israel and the Palestinians of today.  

[F]ive different apprehensions cast a shadow on Israel’s voracious appetite for life:

  • the notion that the Israeli Palestinian conflict might not end in the foreseeable future;
  • the concern that Israel’s regional strategic hegemony is being challenged;
  • the fear that the very legitimacy of the Jewish state is eroding;
  • the concern that a deeply transformed Israeli society is now divided and polarized, its liberal democratic foundation crumbling; and
  • the realization that the dysfunctional governments of Israel cannot deal seriously with such crucial challenges as occupation and social disintegration.

Through interviews with key political and government figures, Shavit explores each of these five apprehensions, gloves off and no holds barred.

For anyone trying to understand where Israel is headed and what might happen there in the future, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel is a must-read.

Book Review: Renee H Levy’s Baseless Hatred

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Do you appreciate a good collection of Jewish sources on a topic, presented in a very readable way? One that guides you toward reflection upon your own prejudices and predilections? One that provides a review of the related research literature and a psychological approach to helping you to evolve into a better, more aware person? Then Baseless Hatred by Renee H. Levy might draw you in during the first half of the volume, and that would be a dayenu, i.e. it would be enough to justify encountering it.  

More after the jump.
Levy’s thesis is that:

… hate is triggered because our primitive neural system reacts to events from the perspective of our own preexisting insecurities, because we make generalizations (which may be positive or negative) and confuse associations (additional but not necessarily relevant information) with causality. We will see that once hate has been triggered it is difficult to extinguish. We will understand the rapid switch that occurs when a person who initially feels victimized into a vindictive perpetrator of hate.

The primary focus of Baseless Hatred is on preventing and resolving hatred between individual Jews, based upon Leviticus 19:17-18, is that “you shall not hate your brother in your heart.” The Bible offers examples of such hatred: Esau’s hatred for Jacob and that of Jacob’s sons for their sibling Joseph. Traditionally, the loss of the Temple and exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel are attributed to sinat hinam, “baseless hatred” between Jews. The lore of the Talmud includes a story (Yevamot 62b), that one of the great rabbis of the second century, Rabbi Akiva, had 24,000 students, and a terrible plague struck the students as Divine punishment for the utter lack of respect they showed to each other. When the plague finally ended, only five remained, and they are credited with carrying the learning from this trauma forward and saving Judaism in their time.

Contemporary case examples of how hatred arises between individual Jews are given in a clinical fashion in Baseless Hatred, along with potential approaches to avert and/or resolve such hatred. This facilitates readers in finding their own life parallels, and trying on the awareness methods that the author provides. One might call this section of the book an experience of mussar (moral), training in interpersonal awareness and personal change.

Arvevut, the mitzvah of mutual responsibility between Jews, is at the core of Levy’s approach to encouraging peace within the Jewish tent, under the heading: “Judah’s Legacy: The Judah Principle”. Judah was Jacob’s son and he offered his life as hostage to Joseph in place of his youngest brother in the Biblical story.  She explains: “Judah taught that in order to return and live in Israel, the Jewish people must reestablish its commitment to mutual responsibility. They did so at the covenant at Sinai.” And on the next page, in a way similar to how she will later quote Rabbi Jonathan Sacks she explains that: “…hatred between two Jews results in a tear that does not stop at their relationship. It reverberates and ultimately destroys the unity and integrity of the national fabric.”

Indeed, but what of the human fabric and the narratives and feelings of all the other peoples and nations? The volume continues, unfortunately, into a blindly self-indulgent view of the Jewish people, accounting us as vastly more saintly than we are, or any humans could be.

“Jews will understand that acceptance and respect by other nations will eventually come when the latter will see that Jews have used their freedom and sovereignty to become moral individuals. At that point, anti-Semitic voices that accuse Israel of being a terrorist or outlaw state will have no echo and will be silenced.”

Were Rene H. Levy to have applied her theories and analysis with empathetic and authentic care for those beyond the Jewish people, this could have been a great book. Instead, in the second half of the volume she falls into the trap of speaking of Jews as great and essentially everyone else as perpetrators that do not appreciate us. The wisdom and process recommendations of finding empathy and understanding from the first half are so quickly lost. What a shame and ironic reflection of the prevailing human condition. We are all responsible to evolve, individually and as peoples. In the words of Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch:

“An “art” is any skill that is not innate but must be acquired by constant training and practice. To our thinking, therefore, being good is surely an art.”

Mitigating the Perception of the Israeli-Arab Conflict


An Arab poster calling for an intifada against Israel, 1990

— by Dr Alon Ben-Meir

There are many impediments to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including historical and current experiences, claims and counter-claims, the lack of trust, contradictory ideological and religious convictions, and the unwillingness to make painful compromises. The one critical impediment that has not been addressed and continues to impede resolutions to the conflicting issues is the perception that each side hold for the other and continuing public narratives that reinforce that perception.

While changing perceptions may not by itself solve every discordant issue — Jerusalem, refugees, national security, etc. — it will dramatically contribute to finding solutions. Thus, unless we mitigate misperceptions about each other, it will be nearly impossible to find a mutually acceptable and lasting solution. The negative perception that has been formed over decades of conflict was nurtured by public narratives promulgated by officials, biased media, schools and other public forums. Both sides have become fixated on what they want to achieve regardless of the other’s rights, wishes, and national aspirations.

More after the jump.
Although a majority of Israelis and Palestinians have a good idea about the contours of a peace agreement, they resist change because:

  • they completely distrust each other, and
  • they are still struggling to define their nationhood, as that sense remains relatively in its infancy.

This state of mind makes it increasingly difficult for officials on both sides to come to grips with reality and seek resolutions to any of the incompatible issues before changing the perception of their respective publics. To that end they must first strive to change their public discourse, demonstrate that negotiated agreement is possible, and convey that the options to resolve the contentious issues are limited while recognizing the inevitability of coexistence.

Obviously changing public perception takes many forms. Ideally it should start with officials on both sides. Yet, having been locked into public postures that reject each other’s, which appears irreconcilable, it becomes impossible for politicians to change their public narrative without serious political repercussions. Moreover, the lack of courageous and visionary leadership on both sides makes it extremely difficult to change course, especially in the absence of powerful internal peace movements and external political pressure, which can provide the leaders the political cover they need.

Thus, to prompt both internal and external pressure to bridge the psychological gap and alter the perception of each other, a serious change in the public narrative becomes central and urgent. Such a change can occur, in large measure, through public dialogues between noted Israelis and Palestinians in particular, along with other Jews and Muslims, by establishing forums, where they can publicly and freely air out the obstacles that keep Israelis and Palestinians apart. In the same setting they should discuss the commonalities they enjoy, why their destiny is intertwined, and why they need each other to coexist peacefully.

The Participants: Pre-Requisites


In addressing the future of Jerusalem, the participants should especially include religious scholars, imams, rabbis and priests

In each of these forums, the participants’ only agenda must be to promote peace, and they should present (not representing) as objectively as possible the views of Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, and other Arabs and Muslims. What would qualify these individuals is their varied academic and personal experiences, respect in their field, thorough knowledge of the conflicting issue, status as independent thinkers, holding no formal position in their respective governments, and committed to finding peaceful solution in the context of coexistence.

For example: in addressing the future of Jerusalem, the participants should especially include religious scholars, imams, rabbis and priests representing all three monotheistic religions, and historians with a focus on the Middle East. They all have to agree in principle that Jerusalem must serve as the capital of two states, without which peace may never be achieved. Although that solution may well be inevitable, still debating other possibilities is critical if for no other reason but to demonstrate why other options are not likely to work.

The same thing can be said about the Palestinian refugees; nearly any informed person, Israeli and Palestinian alike, knows that Israel cannot and will not accept the right of return while remaining a Jewish state. The question is how to explain to the Palestinian public that the right of return can be implemented by facilitating the return of the refugees to their homeland — the West Bank and Gaza — or resettle and accept compensation. On national security concerns, the participants should have a background in security, such as former high ranking military officers with experience in peacekeeping, and scholars specializing in security matters.

Although there are many qualified individuals who would shy away from participating in these public enclaves, fearing criticism or even retribution, there are as many courageous and willing individuals who would be eager to contribute to these efforts. These open discussions will allow, over time, many noteworthy individuals to come out in the open and provide such forums increasing visibility, credibility and outreach.

The Format

Separate forums will discuss specific contentious issues and need not be held simultaneously and certainly not with the same participants. Ideally these enclaves would occur frequently, every two-three weeks and feature a maximum of twenty participants in a roundtable format (3-4 hours) at a minimal cost. This would allow all participants ample opportunity to speak and the public to hear and discern different perspectives and engender creative approaches to complex problems, dictated by the inevitability of coexistence.

Even though the solutions may be obvious, they still require a fresh approach as to how they can be achieved and disabuse both Israelis and Palestinians of the notion that they can have it all and foster a new mindset receptive to the changing conditions and the reality they face. Given the plethora of modern mass communication tools, such dialogues could have, over time, a significant impact on the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ public opinion and how they view each other in the long term.

These forums could initially be held in cities that attract public attention such as Washington, D.C., New York, Tel Aviv and even in Ramallah, and later expand to include other cities in Europe and key Arab states. This entire concept is made possible today more than any other time before because of the revolution in communications that provides multiple ways by which information can be disseminated to millions within minutes.

The means of disseminating should include but not be limited to printed materials, live webcasts, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Certainly there are certain television networks, including PBS, C-SPAN, and al-Hurra, or even Al Jazeera who might also be interested in airing such enclaves. These forums should be revisited in a variety of ways including redistribution through new and interested media outlets, think tanks dedicated to Israeli-Arab peace, and similar organizations, thereby expanding the scope of dissemination as the forums progress.

Indeed, unless there are consistent follow-ups and concerted efforts to promote both the concept and the content of deliberation in these forums, the net result will not match the efforts made. In particular, think tanks could share with their members and websites both the concept and content of these deliberations. As the proceedings become available, the general public will be more engaged further increasing the overall profile of the deliberations.

Such continuing efforts would provide new openings to change public perceptions, prepare the public to compromise and offer the leaders the political cover they need to make peace that of necessity would entail mutually painful concessions.

Hillary Clinton interviewed by Israeli and Palestinian TV

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in a joint interview with Udi Segal of Israel's Channel 2 and Amirah Hanania Rishmawi of Palestine TV at the Department of State.  

Transcript follows the jump.
I will start in asking, this Administration repeats that the Palestinian state is a strategic American interest. Is this become slogan for varied and concrete policies and steps to be taken from your side? Touch on that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: First, thank you both for giving me this opportunity not only to talk to you, but through you to Israeli and Palestinian citizens. And I thank you for that.

The United States believes very strongly, and we are totally committed to working with and supporting the efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and people to achieve a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel living side by side. That has been a personal commitment of mine going back many years, and I believe first and foremost it is in the interests of the people of Israel and of the Palestinians, and particularly of the children.

But it is also an interest of the United States. We strongly support the security and the future of Israel and we strongly support the aspirations of the Palestinian people. The only way, in our opinion, in the 21st century, that you can have the kind of security and peace that gives you a chance for the future that each of your people deserve is through a settlement of all of the outstanding issues and an end to the conflict.

Madam Secretary, you said it yourself yesterday, both sides are so disappointed. What makes this attempt different? Why are the odds – this time it’s for us rather than against us?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a great question, because I know of the skepticism and even the suspicion in the minds and hearts of people in the region. And I said yesterday I’m personally disappointed. I have not only supported the efforts that have come before, but was deeply involved in the support of what my husband tried to do in the 1990s. And I think I’m the first person ever associated with an American administration who called for a Palestinian state as a way to realize the two-state solution.

Why is it different? I think it’s different for three reasons. First, I think that time is not on the side of either Israeli or Palestinian aspirations for security, peace, and a state. It’s not because – there are so many changes in the region where the rejectionist ideology and the commitment to violence that some unfortunately have as we recently saw with the terrible killings in Hebron and the attack outside of Ramallah. They gained greater access to weapons. They have a sponsor, namely Iran, who is very much behind a lot of what they’re doing. The technology is threatening to the stability of both peoples’ lives.

I mean, if you look at the economies that are now growing, much of the world is still coming out of a recession. In the Palestinian business community, in Israel, you have vibrant, growing economies that are making a difference. In Nablus, last year, unemployment was 30 percent; it’s down to 12 percent. It’s clear to me that the forces of growth and positive energy are in a conflict with the forces of destruction and negativity. And the United States wants to weigh in on the side of leaders and people who see this as maybe the last chance for a very long time to resolve this.
Now, I will be the first to tell you it is very difficult. I cannot change history. I cannot take an eraser to the history books and change everything that has happened between you for so many years. But what we can do is offer a different future. But then it takes courage to accept that, because it is a bit of a leap of faith. That’s why I was very impressed that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas came here despite the skepticism.

So Your Excellency, public in the region — consider that Prime Minister Netanyahu came here for a public relationship – relations exercises. What are you going to do at the end of this month if he will not – if he wants to combine between settlement and these public relationship? The end of the month is going to be the last date for that sort of moratorium before the settlement. What are you going to do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that I have known Prime Minister Netanyahu for many years, and I am convinced that he understands and accepts the importance of achieving a two-state solution. He publicly committed to that, something he had not done before, and he negotiated with the Palestinians in the past. He and President Abbas know each other. They have, in my presence, been very clear that they want to work extremely hard to get to a final agreement.
We’re well aware that there are issues that have to be dealt with, such as the one you referred to, at the end of the month. I’m not going to get into their discussions, because that really is at the core of their being able to make some tough decisions, being able to have the confidence that they can have sensitive discussions without me or anybody else talking about them. But I am absolutely convinced that these two men, for different reasons, maybe the two can actually do this.

Everyone knows that in order for Israelis to accept a two-state solution, they have to believe – and I support this with all my heart – that they will be more secure, not less secure. And from their perspective, and one of the reasons for the skepticism in Israel, is we pulled out of Lebanon, we got Hezbollah, we pulled out of Gaza, we got Hamas. So there’s a reality to it. It’s not just a kind of public relations or theoretical argument. I think with President Abbas, he was courageous in the times when he was alone in the Palestinian leadership, in the PLO, in Fatah. He’s been calling for a two-state solution for decades and has given his whole life to trying to realize that. And he knows that this may be the last time.
So I really am convinced that we have obstacles, we have some looming challenges in terms of time. But I believe that both men came with the best of intentions. And now, we have to work hard to overcome those obstacles.

President Abbas said clearly that if settlement freeze does not continue, there will be a – come to a screeching halt in negotiation. What do you – do you agree to that? What do you make of that saying of President Abbas?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Udi, I think part of what we are doing here is creating an atmosphere that is conducive to a final agreement that rests on tough decisions. And the parties know that the goal here is to make the decisions within a framework agreement on all the core issues, all the difficult core issues. And clearly, territory, settlements, borders, security, those are the hardest of the core issues in my opinion.

Refugees?

SECRETARY CLINTON: They have to – and absolutely, Jerusalem, refugees, water, I mean, there’s a whole list of the hard internal core decisions. And I think that dealing with all of them – not in a piecemeal way, but in a comprehensive way, because each side is going to have to make concessions, each side is going to have to make tradeoffs. I’ve never been in a negotiation where one side got everything, because that’s not what happens in negotiations. So I understand the positions of both leaders and I think they are sincere about trying to work to get to a resolution of the outstanding problems, including the one that is looming at the end of the month.

Your Excellency, some people in the region say that peace talks are intended to appease Arabs or the Arabs before some kind of military action against Iran. Is there any truth of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, and I think that’s a very important question, because we have great concerns about Iran. And it’s not only about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons; it’s about Iran’s sponsorship of terror and its supply of weapons to groups that are trying to destabilize countries and societies. So that’s a given. And that concern, as you know, is shared by much of the Arab world, because they see in their own countries the results of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism.

But the Arab Peace Initiative that was led by the Saudis and by King Abdullah, which said, “Here is an outline for how we would like to have peace with Israel,” has been embraced by Arab and Muslim countries, as you know. That had nothing to do with Iran. That was an expression of the recognition by Arab leaders that this conflict needs to be resolved, and it needs to finally result in a two-state solution, because there’s so much to be gained in the region, turning the attention to what could be done together on all these difficult issues that are looming over the region, like water and dealing with terrorism and the like.

So I think that Iran is a serious problem. I’m the first to tell you that. It’s a problem not just for the United States. It’s a problem for the entire region, because more than anyone, you see the results. I mean, Hamas is not only attacking Israelis; Hamas has been brutal to the people in Gaza in so many ways over the last years.

So let’s recognize that we have a lot of problems we have to deal with. My goal has been to try to tackle each problem and to say, “What can we do to make progress?” There are connections, but on their own, getting to a two-state solution is so much in the interests of the entire region.

I want to follow up Amira’s question.

Isn’t – we are witnessing a simple deal here, “We, the United States will dismantle of Iran nuclear weapons, and in return, you, the Israeli and Palestinians, finally will establish a Palestinian state”?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that there are some who make that case. I mean, I make the case on the merits. I mean, in the 1990s, Iran was not a looming threat the way that it is now because of its advanced nuclear program. And my husband, I, and others worked very hard with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and others to try to get to the point where we could establish – and of course, I wish we had done that. We’d now have had a state for 10 years and we would have had, I think, a very clear example to the world about what that meant.

I don’t want to miss this opportunity. We are making progress on the sanctions against Iran. They are clearly feeling the pinch of those because we see it in all the interactions around the world where they are now under tremendous economic pressure. Countries that we didn’t think would join with us have joined and are part of trying to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. So we’re going to stay focused on that. But we know that on its own, this is such an important accomplishment. Will it have consequences? Of course. It will, I believe, help to undermine Iran’s support and that is, in and of itself, good.

Your Excellency, let’s go back – go back with me to the normal and daily life for the Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, checkpoints involved. The Palestinian – Israel maintained more than 500 checkpoints that seriously hinder the freedom of movement in the West Bank. Are the United States writing this up in the negotiation? And are there steps that really give the Palestinians freedom to move, freedom to pray, to reach Jerusalem, to reach a mosque, to reach a better future?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is very much on our mind and it’s very much on the minds of both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. We are well aware that improving the daily lives of Palestinians, which has been going on for a few years now – we think that President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, other leaders – but mostly citizens themselves, mostly Palestinians who have really, in the West Bank, been able to do more on their own behalf – are demonstrating, in ways we could not say, the effects, the positive effects of peace. So, the checkpoints, the roadblocks, all of the daily challenges that we know affect the Palestinians are certainly on the agenda.
Tony Blair, who you know represents the Quartet, which has played an important role in keeping the world’s attention focused on the need for these negotiations, will be working even more with the – persistently and we hope effectively with both Israel and the Palestinian leadership to try to ease as many of those problems as possible while the negotiations are going.

You see, I think the political negotiations need to be matched with changes on the ground and confidence-building and interactions between Israelis and Palestinians. You both know the problems that we face in any society where there is a really small number of people who are committed to terror and violence – it sends all kinds of messages of fear into people who themselves are just wanting to live their lives. So we want to increase freedom of access, we want to increase opportunities in the West Bank, while at the same time, we’re pursuing the political track.

A hypothetical “What if” question if I may: If a full agreement cannot be reached through this negotiation, is creating Palestinian states with provisional borders an option?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I never answer hypotheticals and I don’t particularly want to answer this one because that’s really for the parties to decide. And at this point, that is not on the agenda. What’s on the agenda is a final agreement that ends the conflict, resolves all claims, creates a viable Palestinian state, and gives Israel the security that you deserve and need to have.

So we don’t want to talk about fallback positions because that’s not been mentioned by either leader. I mean, each leader has come prepared to talk about all the core issues, and it would be far better to resolve borders, which then resolves a lot of other difficult matters, than to only do it halfway. So our goal, working with and supporting the negotiation by the leaders, is to get to a framework that deals with all core issues and then a final agreement.

Your Excellency, peace doesn’t only come through beautiful words, but needs to be backed by actions. We all know that the PA government now is through a financial crisis. So what is your message to the donors? And we really need, as a Palestinian, your message to them because they are – start losing hope in peace.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Well, two messages.
First, on the Palestinian Authority, I want to publicly commend the work that has been done by the Palestinian Authority. The advances in security are recognized by all of us. The Palestinian security forces have gained a good and well-deserved reputation for their work in the West Bank. I want to commend the changes in financial management and accountability. And the United States, as you, I’m sure, know has increased dramatically our direct support for the Palestinian Authority. And I have encouraged and urged all the donors to do that and more. Last year was a good year. We got a very robust amount of contributions. This year, we are upping our request to all of the donors to support the peace process by supporting the Palestinian Authority.
And the second message is really to the Palestinian people themselves. I was in Ramallah last year and I met with a group of young Palestinians. And I came away not only impressed, but so encouraged by their motivation, their ambition, their curiosity, their intelligence. And then shortly after that, I was in Israel and I met with a group of young Israelis. And as an outsider, but someone who has long been devoted to Israel and long been committed to a Palestinian state, I see the potential in this next generation.

And I’m hoping that the adults, I’m hoping that the leadership will be willing to try one more time and to be willing to do the hard work of making peace, because these young people – they deserve to have a future in Ramallah or Jericho, not in Toronto or Chicago. If the Palestinian diaspora came home, it would be one of the most talented group of people ever – the doctors, the lawyers, the business leaders. And Israel deserves to have a peaceful, secure future. And so that’s a passion for me, and I will do everything I can to support this process.

You spoke about a core issue. I’m a little confused. When you were a candidate for presidency, you said that Jerusalem was the undivided capital of Israel. Then you retracted from this statement like the candidate, now President Obama. Who should we believe, then? Candidate Clinton or Secretary of State Clinton?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You should believe that I am committed to a safe and secure Israel, and that I believe a two-state solution that realizes the aspirations of the Palestinian people is in the best interests of Israel. Jerusalem is a contested, emotional issue for both Israelis and Palestinians, and really, for Christians, Jews, and Muslims around the world, as you well know.
I want to support what is the outcome that the parties can agree to. And I think both parties know that they’re going to have to engage on this issue and come to an understanding and a resolution so that Jerusalem becomes not the flashpoint, but the symbol of peace and cooperation. And so I am fully supportive of what can be negotiated between the parties.

You mentioned your husband. Maybe on a personal note, do you have an extra incentive to keep on from the point that your husband left it, and this time, succeed?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, there’s no doubt about that. Both my husband and I were very sad that we missed that opportunity. And I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. We – they were so close. I mean, then-Prime Minister Barak and then-President Arafat were so close. And my husband expended so much energy because he cares so deeply. And when he left office some weeks later, Yasser Arafat called him and he said, “Well, now, we’re ready to take the deal,” and my husband said, “But I’m not the president anymore.”

Do you think that Palestinians still losing chances in this time?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope not, because I want to see this done. I want to see it not because it’s something that I care about, although I care deeply. I want to see it because it is so much the right thing to do historically and morally and spiritually and politically and economically.

Otherwise, I see, unfortunately, the forces of destruction, the forces of negativity on both sides gaining strength. And then more young Palestinians and more young Israelis will leave. And that’s – and they don’t want to leave. I mean, I meet with them all the time and they don’t want to leave. But they want to live their lives. They want to live their lives with a level of peace, security, and opportunity, which every person of any common sense wants to have.

Thank you.

So thank you very much, Your Excellency, for having us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.