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Not walking away from peace just yet

By: Hussein ibish, Lebanon NOW


US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech at the Brookings Institution on December 10 has again shown that the Obama administration is not willing to walk away from efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in spite of the obstacles and setbacks it is facing. The position Clinton laid out presents an important potential opportunity for Palestinians to make the point that they are ready for and serious about peace, and to test Israel’s willingness.

Clinton delivered a well-balanced and clearheaded appraisal of US interests and was unambiguous about the importance of ending the conflict and the occupation. The secretary gave what is probably the strongest ever statement by a senior US official about Palestinian statehood, calling it “inevitable.” She described the occupation as “unacceptable” and “unsustainable,” and left no doubt that from the American perspective it must be ended.
No matter how frustrated they might be with the failure to secure an extension to the partial, temporary settlement freeze moratorium, Palestinians should welcome the renewed and rhetorically intensified US commitment to ending the occupation and securing the establishment of a Palestinian state. The bottom line is that while Washington remains committed to Israel’s security, it is also committed, in its own interests, to Palestinian independence and an end to the Israeli occupation. In other words, the world’s only superpower and Israel’s patron is genuinely committed to securing the Palestinian national goal.
Clinton gave the Palestinians a lot to work with and welcome, but, like the Israelis, they have yet to convince Washington of their seriousness about achieving a negotiated agreement. They should embrace the secretary’s call for the parties to take clear positions on final-status issues and lay out their vision for the future as specifically as possible. They would then probably be able to demonstrate that their vision of the future is closer to the US view than Israel’s is, assuming the Israelis are willing to reveal any vision at all.
Palestinians would thereby give the United States every reason to increase its support for the party better in sync with its own policies.
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine and blogs at www.ibishblog.com.

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