During an address to a gathering of U.S. and Israeli politicians at the Haim Saban Centre for Middle East Studies’ ninth forum of in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, established 4 goals for U.S. and Israeli policy in dealing with the new Middle East. The forum entitled challenges of the U.S.-Israeli relationship towards the changes that are currently taking place in the Middle East, is set to last for three days
Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon topped the four goals, followed by working with partners in the region to ensure a sustainable calm in Gaza, and working to bring about a comprehensive peace.
In a long introduction, Clinton emphasised several times that the United States would continue to support and protect Israel by all ways and means: internationally, economically and commercially. She said that in spite of the United States’ economic crisis, the highest historic levels of U.S. financial support for Israel had been recorded. She also highlighted the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries and how the United States had recently raised its volume from 5 billion to $ 35 billion, most of this trade-oriented, adding that in order to maintain the prosperity of Israel, the U.S. should preserve its future as a safe Jewish state.
Clinton then identified the first goal which is Iran, saying: preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is an obligation that President Obama is keen on, “because we know that the Iranian regime exports terrorism not only to Israel, but also to the whole world.”
She said that “The second goal is to work with our partners in the region to convert the ceasefire agreement in Gaza into a sustainable calm in order to preserve Israel’s security as well as improving the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza as half its population is under the age of eighteen years.”
She stressed the necessity of continuing to work with Egypt as well as the continuation of active communication between Israel and Egypt. According to her, the relationship with Egypt is beneficial in implementing the ceasefire, as well as for the excellent relationship it enjoys with both Hamas and other parties in Gaza – this could be utilised in clearly conveying that the U.S. is against the escalation of violence on its border. Clinton added that Washington was waiting for Egypt to increase and strengthen its efforts in the face of the smuggling of weapons from Sudan and Libya to Gaza, as Washington believes that missiles were allowed to enter Gaza through tunnels located on the Egyptian border.
Clinton emphasized the role of Qatar and Turkey in decisively informing Hamas that the U.S. does not want to see violent confrontation again, and stressed that the U.S. has shown its willingness to deal with Islamists who reject violence and seek to achieve real democracy. She then added, “but we will not work with terrorists”.
The third objective was of forming a comprehensive peace where she explained that there was no solution other than peace otherwise Israel would always be compelled to build stronger defences. Without these defences, the demographic accounts would force it to choose between preserving democracy and having Israel as a homeland for Jews while strengthening its military status. But in the long run, there is no complete defence and therefore the security and survival of Israel as a Jewish state depends on a comprehensive peace.
The fourth goal was the democratic transformations in the region. Clinton said that the Arab world is replicating itself again and that both Israel and the United States should work together to ensure that these democratic transitions would bring the region one step closer to peace and security, not steps away from them.