(Communicated by the President's Spokesperson)
President Peres held a working meeting this morning (Wednesday), 15 September 2010, with U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. The President greeted the Secretary of State warmly as she entered the Residence. In addition to the President and the Secretary of State, Avi Gil, the President's Adviser and George Mitchell, the Special Envoy to the Middle East, also participated in the meeting. A number of issues were discussed including the progress of the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the overall situation in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear threat, and the strengthening of relations between Israel and the United States.
After the meeting, President Peres and Secretary of State Clinton proceeded to the President’s Hall and issued a joint statement in which they referred to the relevant topics on the agenda. At the beginning of her remarks, Secy. of State Clinton said: "I am well aware of the obstacles that stand in the way of peace. I know that this long history of conflict and distrust hangs over everything. But I see the future that can deliver on the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for this city and which safeguards its meaning forever. We are also convinced that peace is both necessary and possible and that this is a moment of opportunity that must be seized."
Secretary of State Clinton added: "President Peres referred to the challenges that confront the people of this region. Those challenges make our task even more urgent. Now I appreciate the skepticism that many Israelis feel, the doubt and the disappointment over so many failed efforts and continuing conflict. But Shimon has lived long enough to see more than his share of frustrated hopes and dreams deferred yet he remains an eternal optimist, with his feet firmly planted in the real world, and I take great inspiration from your example. He understands better than most the fundamental reality facing the State of Israel, that the status quo is unsustainable. Now that doesn't mean that it can't be sustained for a year or a decade or two or three, but fundamentally the status quo is unsustainable, and that the only path to ensure Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state is through a negotiated two state solution and a comprehensive regional peace."
"Shimon also understand the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for dignity, self-determination, and a state of their own and he knows very well through hard experience that this effort takes patience, persistence and leadership. That there will always be obstacles and setbacks is a given. It is always easier to defer or criticize tough decisions than to make them. It is always easier to sit on the sidelines than to roll up your sleeves. It is always easier to doubt than to trust."
"President Peres has never been one to sit on the sidelines and thankfully we now have with Prime Minister Netanyahu a leader who understands how important it is to move forward and as he has said we also have a Palestinian President who shares that determination. I have sat with these two men, individually and together, I have listened to them talk candidly and forcefully. They are getting down to business and they have begun to grapple with the core issues that can only be resolved with face-to-face negotiations. I believe they are serious about reaching an agreement that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security. That outcome is not only in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians it is in the interests of the United States and people everywhere. This is the time and these are the leaders and the United States will stand by them as they make difficult decisions. We will be an active and sustained partner throughout this effort and I look forward to continuing our talks today, here in Jerusalem.”
The Secretary of State expressed hope at the end of her remarks: "So again let me thank you Mr. President, for your leadership. You my friend were there at Israel’s creation, and may you also be with us, leading us, as we see Israel emerge free from conflict, secure in its borders, confident in its future, and at peace with its neighbors"
In his remarks President Peres referred to the unique contribution of Secretary Clinton to the peace process: "You are a statesman traveling the world intensively, an Ambassador of goodwill carrying hope and responsibility. In that spirit we welcome you here as an important and appreciated leader. It is good to see you in the Middle East during this important time. Thank you for making your experience, wisdom, friendship and determination to make peace, available to us. We appreciate your efforts.”
The President also referred to the Iranian issue: "We cannot overlook important developments. There is a country that desires hegemony in the Middle East. They have imperial aspirations and use terror, the financing of terror, and the nuclear threat to the Middle East. All of the independent countries in the Middle East feel threatened. It is also a global threat."
In closing, the President referred to the current status of the peace process and said: "Even in the last month there has been progress with the Palestinians. Moving to direct talks is important. The opening of the talks in Sharm-el-Sheikh exceeded people's expectations, even those who were doubtful. My impression after speaking with the Prime Minister and the other leaders is that they feel that now is the time to agree on any issues that be resolved as soon as possible. We must proceed with determination and I am fully convinced that there is no other alternative."