A Palestinian journalist interviews Hillary Clinton
JERUSALEM, Sept. 16 (Press Release)–During her recent visit to Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State was interviewed by Maher Shalabi of Palestine TV about issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Here is a transcript:
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for this opportunity. I know that you have a very short time, but it’s clear that U.S. wants stability and peace in the region. Direct talks have started under U.S. supervision. What will U.S. Administration do to guarantee a positive outcome?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re doing everything we can, because we believe so strongly that this is the time and these are the two leaders. I think that the opportunity is very much apparent to the Israelis and the Palestinians, and certainly to the United States. And I have to say that we have worked hard to get these direct negotiations started again.
It was challenging, but I think appropriate that they’ve now started, and we’ll do everything we can to keep them going, and I hope they do keep going, because I’ve seen these two men talk. And they are already discussing very delicate, difficult issues. Both of them come with a lot of experience, and President Abbas, for example, has an amazing memory and has an ability to zero in on the issues that are important to him. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been very forthcoming about what he would need to have a final agreement.
I think they’ve started. As Senator Mitchell said last night, sometimes it takes months once leaders start talking to each other to get serious about the real core issues. So therefore, we hope, and we’re going to do everything we can, to help facilitate their continuing to negotiate.
QUESTION: Since we talked about final issues, I – in the last month, I visited all the refugee camps outside Palestine, mainly Lebanon. I found hopeless people, desperate people, people who have no jobs, lots of diseases. What your message to those people —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — and if they can have a better future?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly hope so, because I know how difficult conditions are. And I have visited myself and seen that over the past 20 years. But the best way for a resolution of not only the concerns of the Palestinians, but the concerns of Israelis, is to reach an agreement. Israel wants to have security. It wants to be a democratic, secure Jewish state living side by side with an independent, sovereign, viable Palestine.
And we know that there’s a long history of conflict that has to be overcome, but I think it can happen, and that holds the real promise of the kind of life that you would want for your children or I want for mine. But it can’t be arrived at unless there is an agreement, and I hope that everyone supports this process, because we’re facing very difficult circumstances.
I mean, I’m not telling you anything – you’ve got Hamas largely sponsored now by Iran. Life for people in Gaza is very difficult. You’ve got Israel being shelled and mortared from Gaza, which makes it very difficult for Israelis. There’s a lot of good work being done in the West Bank – institution-building, economic progress. I want to see security for Israel, and I want to see both the West Bank and Gaza as the home of Palestinian people who are charting their own future. So we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.
QUESTION: I mean, when you talk about Jewish state —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — don’t you think you’re imposing the outcome of the negotiation and many times, you’re saying, “We want to impose the outcome”?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, that, to me, is a fact, that if you go back and look at the original UN documents, and even if you look at some of the PLO documents over the last many years, everyone recognizes that Israel is a homeland for Jewish people. Palestinians have the right to work toward a homeland for themselves. And I don’t think that takes anything away from either side in saying that.
QUESTION: Today, coming to do this interview, we’ve been through lots of (inaudible) – I mean, from checkpoints to checkpoints, even security here treat us in a different way. But I met an old man in the checkpoint who, for him, says, “Peace for me is to go out of Jenin, from Jenin, to pray in Jerusalem, to go to Hebron, have a lunch, and come back to Jenin without seeing an Israeli soldier, without seeing a settlement, without seeing – without anybody stunning me.”
Is this the peace you bring in to the Palestinian – you want for the Palestinian, to convince the Palestinian?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I think that’s an excellent description – to be able to live a normal life, to be able to live in peace among yourselves and your neighbors, to be unafraid of terrorism within the Palestinian state or for Israelis to fear it within Israel. So you can do exactly that – you can take your children to visit their grandparents without fear that something terrible will happen to you, you can go to work 10 kilometers from your home without worrying about being stopped every one kilometer. It’s that sense of normalcy. I’ve talked to both President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad about that, and there have been changes which have really meant a lot to the people of the – of Palestine, and I want to see that for everybody.
And I want to see it for the people in Gaza. I feel terrible for the oppression and the treatment that they are receiving. I want them to feel – I was in Gaza about 12 years ago – and I would like Gaza to have the same economic opportunities as we now see in the West Bank. In order to get that, there has to be an agreement. And I think, as listening to both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, that vision of a normal life is what both leaders want for their people.
QUESTION: My last question, ma’am, is to improve economy is great, but also Palestinian looking for their freedom —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — and have – to have their own state, without this, neither Mahmoud Abbas or before (inaudible) or anybody coming – I’m asking you this as an average Palestinian – nobody will believe in peace. Peace (inaudible) side by side mean a Palestinian state, a passport, travel freely, live freely, walk freely – is this the kind of peace you both – American, Palestinian, and Israelis – and the world offering to the Palestinian people? Because also, Palestinian want security —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — not only Israel.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes. And I think that is exactly the peace that the Palestinians deserve to have. I mean, this negotiation is about the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in freedom, to live in security, to live in an independent, sovereign, viable state. And similarly, Israelis who have worked very hard for their own security want to be able to live in security without rockets firing on them.
So I think there is such a common desire here for that kind of normal life so that when you travel to Jenin or Jericho, Ramallah or Jerusalem, you’re traveling as a citizen of an independent, sovereign, viable state. And I am impressed by the work that has been done, under very difficult circumstances, to build the institutions that are required. The security forces that the Palestinian Authority has built up have inspired confidence, and in the areas where they have control, they have done an excellent job. So people see that, and that forms the basis for the kind of negotiations that are now occurring.
QUESTION: Well, it’s a short time. I wish next time we have you for an hour. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look forward to that. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Preceding provided by U.S. State Department