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Clinton Stresses Urgency of Mideast Peace, Says ‘We Have No Interest in Forcing a Solution’

“What I worry about,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a gathering yesterday at the Center for Middle East Peace, is that “a failure to act now when there are changed circumstances, including the Arab Peace Initiative, including the very broadly shared fear of Iran’s intentions and actions, will not just set us back, but may irreversibly prevent us from going forward” and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a two-state solution.

It’s that sort of urgency, up against the current impasse in the peace process, that’s leading the Obama administration to consider offering its own peace plan. Even if it does, Clinton implicitly clarified in her speech, “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.” Notice, though, that that’s not the same thing as pledging not to offer a U.S. proposal for peace.

Her speech also tethered the peace process to the marginalization of Hamas, a shared Israeli-Palestinian Authority-U.S. interest:

In contrast to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has staked its credibility on a path of peaceful coexistence. Even more than economic opportunities, that path for the Palestinians must lead to a state of their own, for the dignity that all people deserve, and the right to chart their own destiny. If President Abbas cannot deliver on those aspirations, there’s no doubt his support will fade and Palestinians will turn to alternatives – including Hamas. And that way leads only to more conflict.

But the U.S., the so-called Quartet (the U.S., Russia, the United Nations and the European Union) and the Arab states can only facilitate a solution, Clinton said: “[T]here are only two peoples who can make the decisions. … President Obama can’t work harder than the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

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