Clinton set forth U.S. policy toward Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in a statement answering questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "No decisions have been made about the personnel structure we will use to implement our Middle East peace efforts...President-Elect Obama has pledged to work actively from the beginning of his Administration to help Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace...The Road Map...remains one of the important bases for working toward a two-state solution....The parties report that progress has been made in these talks, which they hope to build upon...The Arab Peace Initiative contains some constructive elements which could be important bases for negotiations..."
President-Elect Obama has pledged to work actively from the beginning of his Administration to help Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace and security through a two-state solution, because this is in both parties' interests and because it is the United States' interests. Throughout 2008, he urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to make as much progress as possible in their negotiations that arose out of the Annapolis conference, so that a functioning process could be continued in 2009. And indeed, the parties report that progress has been made in these talks, which they hope to build upon. Our commitment is to help them build on that progress and achieve their goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. That commitment remains, even in the face of very difficult and challenging events, such as the recent events in Gaza and southern Israel. The Road Map, with the mutual obligations it places on the parties, remains one of the important bases for working toward a two-state solution.
The Palestinian National Security Force and Presidential Guard members who have been trained in Jordan under the auspices of the United States Security Coordinator have performed well in early tests in Jenin and Hebron. This is an important element of strengthening Palestinian capabilities to enable the Palestinian Authority to meet its commitments to combat terrorism and maintain law and order, which are crucial to ensuring security for Israelis and improving daily life for Palestinians. The Congress has provided approximately $161 million in funding for this successful program in fiscal years 2008 and 2009. If confirmed, I will be consulting with General Keith Dayton and others to determine appropriate funding levels for this program to continue to achieve positive results.
General Jones, General Selva, and Genend Dayton have each played important and constructive roles in advancing U.S. efforts to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Former Prime Minister Blair has also made an excellent contribution as the Quartet's special envoy, promoting economic development and institution-building in the Palestinian areas. No decisions have been made about the personnel structure we will use to implement our Middle East peace efforts, but each of the important functions carried forward by the Generals and Prime Minister Blair will need to be continued in whatever structure we ultimately decide upon.
I believe the Arab states have an important role to play in advancing efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Their chief means to do so are providing political and economic support to the Palestinian Authority, and taking steps toward normalization with Israel. The Arab Peace Initiative contains some constructive elements which could be important bases for negotiations and for positive steps to give the initiative a more operational character. I look forward to discussing these opportunities with Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab partners and encouraging progress in these efforts.