Yitzhak Benhorin
September 8, 2010 - 12:00am

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the American administration's optimism as to Israeli-Palestinian peace process' chances of success Wednesday.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton said that she believed the "pessimists" were wrong to think the talks were doomed to fail. Peace can be achieved, she said, if the parties will overcome "initial obstacles" – a clear hint the settlement freeze set to end on September 26.

The Palestinians have already threatened to walk away from the negotiating table should Israel resume its settlement activity.

"Both sides and both leaders recognize there may never be another chance” to achieve peace, Clinton said.

"I think for most Israeli leaders that I have known and worked with, and especially those coming from sort of the right of Israeli politics, which the prime minister does – you know, it's like Mario Cuomo's famous line: you know, they campaign in poetry and they govern in prose. And the prose is really challenging.

"You look at where Israel is and the threats it faces demographically, technologically, ideologically, and the idea of striking a peace deal with a secular Palestinian Authority that is committed to its own people's economic future makes a lot of sense if it can be worked out," she said.

As for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Clinton said that "he was probably the earliest and at times the only Palestinian leader who called for a two-state solution, going back probably 20, 30 years. And for him, this is the culmination of a life commitment.

"And I think that the Arab League initiative, the peace initiative, put the Arab – most Arab and Muslim countries on record as saying that they could live with and welcome a two-state solution – 57 countries, including some we know didn't mean it, but most have followed through in commitments to it has changed the atmosphere," she continued.

Foreign policy paying off
"I know how difficult it is and I know the internal domestic political considerations that each leader has to contend with, but I think there's a certain momentum. You know, we have some challenges in the early going that we have to get over, but I think that we have a real shot here."

Clinton also asserted the Obama administration's approach to foreign policy, saying it was beginning to pay important dividends.

"We are… making progress on some of our most pressing challenges. Today we can say with confidence that this model of American leadership works, and that it offers our best hope in a dangerous world.

"We will seize this new moment of opportunity this new American Moment. We are a nation that has always believed we have the power to shape our own destiny, to cut a new and better path," she said.

"The world is counting on us. When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us," she said. "When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017