Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 19, 2009


For video of the segment that aired on Al Jazeera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEmMQOx0Hwk

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thanks for your time, first of all, for talking to this program on Al Jazeera. The meeting yesterday between President Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the meeting, President Obama could not have made it any clearer that he wanted a two-state solution. On the other hand, Prime Minister Netanyahu sort of danced around the issue without using the terminology, which has raised concerns in the Arab world. How concerned are you about the fact that he didn’t actually mention once “two-state solution”?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is the beginning, and we see this as an intensive period of our outreach and of our frankly laying out what we want to see happen. You rightly point out that the President underscored our commitment to a two-state solution and also called for a stop to the settlements. We have made that very clear. I reinforced that last night at a dinner that I hosted for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Now the hard work starts. But I think it is significant that the Obama Administration is not waiting. We are starting this intensive engagement right now, very early in our Administration. We have consulted broadly already. Both George Mitchell and I have spoken with many Arab leaders, as well, of course, with the Palestinians and the Israelis. And we are determined to forge ahead on what we believe is in the best interests of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the larger region, and the world, as well as what we think is right. And the President – our President has often said, “Judge us on our actions, not our words.” But his words were very strong, and now we intend to match those words with our actions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when President Obama yesterday talked about the issue of settlements and he said that he wanted the Israelis to freeze the building on the West Bank, does that mean that he wants the settlements, the existing settlements, to be rolled back to the 1967 border, specifically?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are two pieces to that question. First, we want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity. That is what the President has called for. We also are going to be pushing for a two-state solution which, by its very name, implies borders that have to be agreed to. And we expect to see two states living side by side, a state for the Palestinians that will be sovereign and within which the Palestinians will have the authorities that come with being in charge of a state with respect to such activities as settlements. So it’s really a two-step effort here. We want to see a stop now, and then, as part of this intensive engagement that Senator Mitchell is leading for us, we want to move toward a two-state solution with borders for the Palestinians.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on the issue of the division, the split within the Palestinian body, Fatah and Hamas, can you envisage a scenario where you would be able to achieve a two-state solution without talking in some way, in some form, to Hamas?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe that Hamas has to comply with not only the Quartet principles but the underlying principles of the Arab Peace Initiative. You cannot expect either Fatah or the Israelis or Arabs who wish to see this matter resolved, with a two-state solution, to work with a group that does not believe in the outcome of these efforts. And in any peace negotiation that I’m aware of anywhere in the world, groups that are resistance groups, insurgent groups, guerilla groups, when they come to the peace table have to commit to peace. And we would expect Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist, to renounce violence as the way to the achievement of a homeland for the Palestinian people, and to recognize the prior agreements that have been entered into by the Palestinians either through the PLO or the PA.

I think that’s an incredibly reasonable request. Now, it is truly up to Hamas. The unity efforts that Egypt has been leading have been difficult because, clearly, there are very strongly divergent opinions that are being expressed. My hope is that I will see, you will see Palestinian children in their own state having a chance to lead normal lives, being given the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential, to get an education, to get the healthcare they need, to have good jobs and pursue their dreams. I don’t want to see them consigned to years more of conflict that just destroys that future.

And I think we have an opportunity now. We have a President of the United States who has already reached out and said here is what I’m committed to doing. I am committed. We have a team in this Administration, and we are looking for partners. We think that the Palestinian Authority is ready to be a partner. We believe through our efforts we will get the Israelis to make the kind of commitment to a two-state solution that is absolutely necessary. We know that many leaders in the Arab world see this in a different way, as the Arab Peace Initiative suggests. So let’s try to bring people to that recognition, and that includes Hamas.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thanks for the time, and I hope we can have you again on Al Jazeera.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Nice to talk to you.

QUESTION: Great to see you. Thank you very much.




PRN: 2009/484