WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's administration expects not only Israel and the Palestinians to uphold their commitments, but also Arab nations and other countries.
In her meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton stressed Washington's backing of the two-state solution. She also emphasized the White House's demand that Israel halt all construction in West Bank settlements, viewed by the US as impeding peace efforts.
In a conversation with foreign journalists in Washington, the secretary said "the president was very clear yesterday in his statement that he wants to see a stop to the settlements.
"I hosted a dinner for Prime Minister Netanyahu later in the day at the State Department and we reiterated that that is the position and policy of the United States government.
"We are committed to a two-state solution. And obviously, underlying that commitment is the conviction that the Palestinians deserve a viable state. And therefore, nothing should be done to undermine the potential resolution of the peace effort, that could prevent such a two-state solution from taking hold.
"We are, as always, committed to the safety and security of Israel. But our goal is to see the people living together. We want to see Israelis and Palestinians having a chance to raise their children, to have a future free of conflict and to give every child the opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential. That is our goal.
"So we are at the beginning of what will be an intensive period. And you notice that we started it right from the commencement of the Obama administration. We appointed George Mitchell as our special envoy the second day of the president's term in office. We have worked very hard already to determine what is possible. And it's not only, as you know, what the Israelis and the Palestinians will do, but what will the Arab neighbors do, what will others do to help us bring about the conclusion we seek."
Clinton also commented on the Iranian threat, saying the US would use all the tools at its disposal, starting with diplomacy.
Netanyahu said earlier in the day that he wanted to renew the Palestinian peace process "immediately," in tandem with an effort to gain backing from Arab states for efforts to counter Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"We have a unique historical circumstance in that Israel and many of our Arab neighbors understand the threat posed by Iran's quest to develop nuclear weapons capabilities," Netanyahu said.
"We intend to pursue the peace track independently of what happens in Iran, but in point of fact ... it should be done in parallel," he said after a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
AFP contributed to this report