Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Obama vows he’ll ‘aggressively’ seek Middle East peace

Posted by Andrea Pompozzi su 22 gennaio, 2009

Jan. 22, 2009
hilary leila krieger, jpost correspondent in washington , THE JERUSALEM POST

US President Barack Obama declared his intention to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians during his first visit to the State Department on Thursday, stressing the importance his administration places on diplomatic engagement in the region.

He backed Israel’s security needs and reiterated the Quartet demands before having contacts with Hamas, but he also called for the Gaza border crossings to be open as part of efforts to consolidate a recent ceasefire.

“Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats,” he said. “No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community and neither should the Palestinian people themselves.”

He praised Egypt’s role in helping to end the violence, and also indicated that America will be committed to ending arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

He then added, “Just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians,” noting that “our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care.”

To that end he called on Israel to open the border crossings and the Palestinian Authority – which would be helped with funds and support through an international donors conference – to a play a role along with the international community in monitoring the access points.

“It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors,” he said.

To that end, he announced that the new Israeli-Palestinian envoy, George Mitchell, would soon be dispatched to the region to help ensure the ceasefire holds and move forward on working with Israelis and Palestinians.

The subject of Israeli-Palestinian peace was the first foreign policy issue Obama addressed in his trip to the State Department, which came on the day Hillary Clinton assumed office following her Senate confirmation Wednesday. She also introduced a second envoy, Richard Holbrooke, who will serve as the point person on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama was criticized even before taking office for remaining silent during the recent Gaza violence and the Mitchell announcement coupled with his remarks on the subject seemed a bid to demonstrate that he is now fully engaged in the issue after relieving himself of the shackles of the transition period.

“We have come to the State Department today to send a very clear message that we will reinvigorate American diplomacy,” declared Biden.

Mitchell, for his part, said that the long-term conflict “demands our maximum effort no matter the difficulties, no matter the setbacks. The key is the mutual commitment of the parties and the active participation of the United States government.”

“Nowhere is the need for a robust diplomatic approach needed more,” Clinton said, referring to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, stressing the role that diplomacy and development will play under her watch when it comes to involvement with these regions.

Clinton also reached out to leaders in the region, speaking by phone to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other regional neighbors earlier in the day.

In their conversation, Olmert congratulated Clinton on her position, which became official after her confirmation vote Wednesday afternoon.

He told her that Israel is interested in continuing to advance the Middle East peace process and intended to increase humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza. He also stressed Israel’s commitment to preventing terrorism and arms smuggling into the coastal strip.

Jordan’s King Abdullah also congratulated Clinton on her role new, pressing the importance of launching serious and effective peace negotiations, according to the Jordanian embassy.

After the announcement of Mitchell’s role, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, welcomed the news, saying in a statement, “Israel holds Senator Mitchell in high regard and looks forward to working with him on taking the next steps towards realizing a future of peace and security for Israel and her neighbors.”

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232643726975&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

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