The United States respects the democratic process in Israel and will stand by any government that is established in the country, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told President Shimon Peres Tuesday.
The two met at the president's official residence in Jerusalem. The 45-minute meeting was also attended by President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.
On his part, Peres assured Clinton that the next Israeli government would uphold the state's commitment to the peace process and previous agreements.
Clinton and Peres (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
At a press conference following the meeting, Clinton said that Israel and the US shared not only interests, but also common values.
She reiterated the need for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – an issue that could become a bone of contention between the US and the next government, but stressed that the US will work with any government that "represents the democratic will of the people of Israel."
Clinton stressed the US' "unrelenting" commitment to Israel's security and said rocket fire at Israel from militants in Gaza must stop.
"There is no doubt that any nation, including Israel, cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks," she said, criticizing the rocket fire as "cynical."
But she also noted her declaration at a high-profile conference in Egypt on Monday that the US supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
"During the conference, I emphasized President Obama's and my commitment to working to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and our support for the Palestinian Authority," she said.
Peres spoke of Israel's security problems, and mentioned both the situation in the Gaza Strip and the threat posed by Iran.
The president hinted that further military action may be taken in Gaza, but stressed that diplomatic negotiations will have to be carried out simultaneously.
Yad Vashem visit
Following her meeting with President Shimon Peres, Clinton visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, where she took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Hall of Remembrance. She also visited the Yad Vashem art museum and the Children's Memorial.
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who is currently serving as chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, accompanied Secretary of State Clinton on her visit. Rabbi Lau said that Clinton promised to come for another visit, and seemed quite moved by the memorial prayer recited in the Hall of Remembrance.
According to the rabbi, Clinton asked that her photograph be taken next to a painting of a dove next to the art museum as a symbolic gesture for seeking peace in the region.
Later in the day Clinton is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu. Sources close to Netanyahu said that he would convey to the secretary of state his intention to continue the dialogue with the Palestinians and to provide economic aid to moderates in the Palestinian Authority.