Clinton: Arabs must ‘Prepare their Publics to Embrace Peace’

Following on the heels of President Obama’s meeting with Jewish leaders this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important foreign policy address yesterday, calling on Palestinians and Arab nations to do their part for peace.

“We know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States – or Israel – alone,” Clinton said at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Ending the conflict requires action on all sides.

The Palestinians have the responsibility to improve and extend the positive actions already taken on security; to act forcefully against incitement; and to refrain from any action that would make meaningful negotiations less likely.

And Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel’s place in the region. The Saudi peace proposal, supported by more than twenty nations, was a positive step. But we believe that more is needed. So we are asking those who embrace the proposal to take meaningful steps now. Anwar Sadat and King Hussein crossed important thresholds, and their boldness and vision mobilized peace constituencies in Israel and paved the way for lasting agreements. By providing support to the Palestinians and offering an opening, however modest, to the Israelis, the Arab states could have the same impact. So I say to all sides: Sending messages of peace is not enough. You must also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict. 

(You can watch the speech and read the full transcript here.) 

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Clinton did not specify what steps should be taken by the Arab nations. However — and this is important:

Obama administration officials have suggested allowing Israeli commercial airlines to fly over Arab nations and enhancing business ties short of full diplomatic relations.

The timing of this speech, just days after Obama assured Jewish leaders that “forceful” pressure is being applied on the Palestinians, indicates just how sensitive the Obama administration is to perceptions in the Jewish community that Israel is being pressured unilaterally to freeze settlements.

Moreover, the Obama administration is explicity rejecting the notion that the Saudi peace plan by itself is enough, and is pressing for concrete concessions on the Arab side, beyond the sometimes ephemeral demands to reign in terror and take action against incitement.

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2 Responses to “Clinton: Arabs must ‘Prepare their Publics to Embrace Peace’”

  1. Daniel says:

    Both sides need to be pressured into making a single unique gesture…one for one…small but sure steps…Hillory needs to lay that out…

  2. Neurotic Dem says:

    Daniel —
    My sense is they are working on this behind the scenes. Also, that they recognize it was a mistake being so public with their disagreement with Israel on settlements. George Mitchell and Ehud Barak are apparently near a deal on settlements, that they are working on behind closed doors. I think in the future, the Obama administration likely will tread more lightly, and be more clear, as you say, that it’s one for one.
    -ND

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