After Vice President Joe Biden brokered a twenty four hour long rapprochement in American-Israeli relations this week, it is Hillary Clinton’s turn to try to revitalize the peace talks which the United States initiated in September.
The American secretary of state met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Thursday. In a joint statement released by the US State Department and Netanyahu’s office yesterday, Clinton expresses support for the creation of a Palestinian state, “based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps.” The document doesn’t say how the Israelis feel about such “swaps” however.
Although Israeli settlement construction remains a much-contested issue in the negotiations, the statement made no mention of Israel’s position. Yet its refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction prompted the Palestinians to walk out on the peace talks last month. This week, Netanyahu’s government announced another expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. President Barack Obama even weighed in on this decision from Jakarta, Indonesia, saying that the move was “unhelpful”. In a bold pronouncement, Netanyahu lashed back, attesting that Jerusalem will forever be the Israeli capital.
At a press conference Wednesday, Clinton similarly expressed disappointment with the planning of settlement construction in East Jerusalem. “This announcement was counterproductive to our efforts to resume negotiations between the parties,” she said. “We have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem.”
She praised the Palestinian authorities instead for “reversing a history of corruption and producing results that actually matter and improve the lives of Palestinians.” Washington will therefore donate an additional $150 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, Clinton announced. “This brings our direct budget assistance to a total of $225 million for the year and our overall support and investment to nearly $600 million this year,” she added.