The result of last week’s Israeli parliamentary elections “opens doors” for the pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and doesn’t close them, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.
Speaking to university students in Beirut via a virtual Global Town Hall interview, Clinton also said that a way must be found to secure a state that the Palestinians “deserve,” along with the “safety and stability” that the Jewish state “seeks.”
A Lebanese moderator broached the subject of extremism in the Middle East as an introduction to an American University of Beirut student’s question regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“With the recent reelection of Benjamin Netanyahu, the chances for peace are almost negligible,” the student said. “Out of your experiences, what’s needed to achieve the most comprehensive and long-lasting peace in the Middle East?”
Clinton responded that the results of Israel’s recent elections suggest an electorate that wishes to pursue a “different path” towards peace. She said that her expected successor, Senator John Kerry, will aggressively seek a solution.
“I actually think that this election opens doors, not nails them shut,” Clinton said. Significant successes by center-left parties like Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid demonstrated, she said, that “a significant percentage of the Israeli electorate chose to express themselves by saying, you know, we need a different path than the one we have been pursuing internally and with respect to the Middle East peace process.”
“So I know that President Obama and my successor, soon-to-be secretary of state John Kerry, will pursue this, will look for every possible opening,” she said.
Clinton added that after two decades of involvement in the Middle East peace process, she sees mutual distrust as the heart of the problem.
“We have to look for ways to give the Palestinian people the pathway to peace, prosperity and statehood that they deserve and give the Israeli people the security and stability that they seek,” she said. “I think that still is possible and I can assure you the Unites States under President Obama will continue to do everything we can to move the parties towards some resolution.”