WASHINGTON DC, October 21, 2010 --
“I promise you this: The Obama administration will not turn our backs on the Palestinian people or the people of Israel,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told an audience of over 700 in a major policy address last night. She spoke at the Fifth Annual Gala of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) in Washington DC. Expressing the administration's determination to push forward with the peace process, she said, “we will continue working every day to achieve the just, lasting and comprehensive peace that has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy for years. We believe it is possible, it is necessary, and it is the only way.”
Sec. Clinton also emphasized the importance of the Palestinian state and institution building program which, she said, “may receive fewer headlines but it is also critically important.” Sec. Clinton praised Palestinian economic development and the performance of the new security forces, but noted that during her recent visit to Ramallah “it was impossible to forget the painful history of a people who have never had a state of their own. For most Americans, it is hard to imagine living behind checkpoints and roadblocks, without the comforts of peace or the confidence of self-determination.” She affirmed that, “the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people will never be satisfied until there is a two-state solution that ensures dignity, justice, and security for all.”
Sec. Clinton thanked ATFP President Ziad Asali, “for your leadership of this important organization, and for your steadfast support of peace.” She said the Task Force has “provided a welcome voice of reason and steady advocacy on behalf of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.” She also noted and praised the charitable efforts of ATFP's sister organization, American Charities for Palestine, and congratulated the evenings' honorees, quoting from the work of one of them, poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
In his introduction to the Secretary, Dr. Asali noted that she “has transformed the way in which expectations are defined and achievement evaluated.” He told the Secretary that, “with boundless courage and tireless drive, you beat long odds and overcame overwhelming obstacles. The Palestinians too are creating something which is difficult, they too chafe against a history which has discouraged veering from its path, and they too are being told that it cannot be done.” He also affirmed that her “bold statement that our country must assure that the 'Palestinians build the institutions of their future state, an effort which must continue during the negotiations' is one that we at ATFP applaud and support without reservation."
After a letter of support from President Abbas read by Ambassador Maen Areikat, ATFP honored four outstanding Palestinian Americans: Colonel (Ret.) Peter Mansoor, Jr. Chair of Military History at Ohio State University and former Executive Officer to General David Petraeus; renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye; award-winning playwright Betty Shamieh, and Ghassan Salameh, an Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton. The Gala audience was also treated to a performance by the acclaimed Palestinian-American comedienne Maysoon Zayid.
Please find below the various links to videos of our guests, as the program unfolds.
Master of Ceremonies
Bureau Chief Al Arabiya Washington, D.C.
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Click here to see more pictures from the Gala