WASHINGTON – US National Security Advisor James Jones said Wednesday that his country was disappointed that Israel and the Palestinians have not begun direct negotiations.
"It is time to begin those negotiations and to put an end to excuses. It is time for all leaders in the region-Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab-to support efforts for peace. It is time for today's leader to demonstrate the courage and leadership of Anwar Sadat, King Hussein, and Yitzhak Rabin," Jones said during an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
Jones was representing President Barack Obama's stand, that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would neutralize both the terror threat and the Iranian nuclear threat.
He noted, however, that "in our pursuit of a two-state solution, we recognize that peace must be made by the parties and cannot be imposed from the outside."
"At the same time," he added, "we understand that the status quo is not sustainable…. It strengthens the rejectionists and weakens those who would live in peace."
Addressing the Iranian and Syrian issues, General Jones said that "peace between Israel and Syria, if it is possible, could have a transformative effect on the region." He added that peace would also prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
Jones stressed that "President Obama has been very clear… the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons."
'Special relationship with Israel'As for the tense relations between Israel and the US, Jones said, "Like any two nations, we will have of disagreements, but we will always resolve them as allies. And we will never forget that since the first minutes of Israeli independence, the United States has had a special relationship with Israel. And that will not change.
"Why? Because this is not a commitment of Democrats or Republicans; it is a national commitment based on shared values, deep and interwoven connections, and mutual interests."
He said Israel and the United States shared "values of freedom and individual opportunity. They are the bonds of two democracies, where power resides in the people. They are the bonds of pioneers in science, technology and so many fields where we cooperate every day. They are the bonds of friendship, including the ties of so many families and friends."
The national security advisor noted that the aid was not on-sided. "Our military benefits from Israeli innovations in technology, from shared intelligence, from exercises that help our readiness and joint training that enhances our capabilities and from lessons learned in Israel’s own battles against terrorism and asymmetric threats."