Now, I’ve had friends of mine – Israelis – say, but you know we can’t determine what happens and we just have to hold firm to the positions we hold. As I said in my AIPAC speech, there are three problems with that position: demography, ideology, and technology.
So for Israel, accepting concrete steps toward peace – both through the peace process and in the bottoms-up institutions building I have described – are the best weapons against Hamas and other extremists. Prime Minister Netanyahu has embraced the vision of the two-state solution. But easing up on access and movement in the West Bank, in response to credible Palestinian security performance, is not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere. So we encourage Israel to continue building momentum toward a comprehensive peace by demonstrating respect for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, stopping settlement activity, and addressing the humanitarian needs in Gaza, and to refrain from unilateral statements and actions that could undermine trust or risk prejudicing the outcome of talks.
Now, Israel has worked hard to improve security. And along with the increased capacity and commitment of Palestinian security forces and the construction of the wall, which I have defended as a senator and I defend as the Secretary of State, the number of suicide bombings – thankfully – has dropped significantly. And as a result, some in Israel have come to believe that they are protected by walls, buoyed by a dynamic economy, and can avoid having to do anything right now. Because these are hard choices that they are confronting.
But that would mean continuing an impasse that not only carries tragic human costs and denies Palestinians their legitimate aspirations, but which threatens Israel’s long-term future as a secure and democratic Jewish state. Israelis and Palestinians alike must confront the reality that the status quo has not produced long-term security or served their interests, and accept their share of responsibility for reaching a comprehensive peace that will benefit both sides.
So too must the Arab states, many of whom are represented here tonight, who worry about the destabilizing impact of extremists like Hamas but don’t do enough to bolster the efforts of the Palestinian Authority. It is also in the interest of Arab states to advance the Arab Peace Initiative with actions, not just rhetoric, make it easier for the Palestinians to pursue negotiations and achieve an agreement. If the Arab Peace Initiative is indeed, as Rob said, the genuine offer it appears to be, we should not face threats by certain Arab states that it will be "taken off the table" each time there is a setback. We look forward to a deeper conversation about implementing the Initiative and the concrete results it would bring to the people of the region. And we are very encouraged by the work of a number of NGOs and civil society groups, including some who are represented here, to articulate a more complete vision of those benefits of peace.
Now, for our part, the United States understands the need to support the reforms of the Palestinian Authority and continue efforts to restart substantive negotiations. We not only know we cannot force a solution, we have no interest in forcing a solution. The parties themselves are the only ones who can resolve their differences. (Applause.) But as a good friend, we believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the ‘67 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements.
This will require all parties to make difficult but necessary choices. And it will take leadership. Now, we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen it over the last years from the time when Sadat and Begin extended a hand of peace because they knew it would make their people stronger.