Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryToday, Secretary Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held a joint press conference at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Secretary Clinton said:"Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be back here at the foreign ministry and to be hosted by the foreign minister. As with all my previous visits to Israel, going back nearly 30 years, I feel very welcomed by the Israeli people. And I appreciate now the opportunity to have this first visit as Secretary of State of my country, representing our new President, and to discuss with officials and friends some of the very challenging issues – a full, broad array of them – based on our close relationship.
I was privileged to start my day with President Peres, and then to pay a visit to Yad Vashem to once again pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. My visit was a powerful reminder, as it always is, of why we are working so hard to advance the peace and security of the state of Israel.
As I said this morning, President Obama and I believe that the bond between the United States and Israel, and our commitment to Israel’s security and to its democracy as a Jewish state, remains fundamental, unshakable, and eternally durable.
We had a very productive discussion today, and it was broad-ranging. We discussed, among many other things, our common commitment to a two-state solution as part of a comprehensive, secure peace with Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab neighbors. We talked about the steps that the minister has pursued and what could be done when there is a new government in place.
The first step right now, not waiting for a new government, is a durable ceasefire. But that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks. No nation should be expected to sit idly by and allow rockets to assault its people and its territories. These attacks must stop and so must the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. These activities put innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians at risk and undermine the well-being of the people of Gaza.
As we move forward, we will work together – along with the international community – to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza. We believe we can also work together to further the obligations that were entered into by the Palestinian Authority under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and help pave the way for a viable Palestinian state that can be independent, accountable, and live at peace.
That is the message that I brought to the Gaza donors conference, along with a pledge that the United States will be vigorously engaged in the pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way. Our Special Envoy Senator Mitchell is here with me today. He will be back soon, once there is a government formed. The road ahead, we acknowledge, is a difficult one but there is no time to waste.
The foreign minister and I also discussed Iran. We share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its continued financing of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. As we conduct our policy review and consider areas where we might be able to productively engage with Iran, we will stay in very close consultation with our friends here in Israel, with the neighbors of Iran in the region and beyond with those countries that understand what a threat Iran poses today, and what a greater threat it would pose were it ever to be successful in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
As I pledge again today, and as President Obama has said, we will do everything necessary to ensure Israel’s security now and into the future.
I will later today meet with the prime minister-designate, with the defense minister, and with the prime minister, and will be engaging with them on a full range of the issues that we – both of our countries –care so much about.
We believe that working together as friends and partners with patient, determined, persevering diplomacy, we can help advance the cause of peace and security here in Israel and throughout the region. So again, Madame Minister, thank you so much for hosting me here today."
You may read the complete transcript of the press conference here.