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Facilitating comprehensive peace in the Middle East has been a top priority for U.S. President Barack Obama. He made that clear when, 2 days after his inauguration, he created the post of Special Envoy for the Middle East and charged former Senator George Mitchell with brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and facilitating the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states.
One year later America’s tireless efforts towards achieving this goal have not waned. President Obama has met with the Kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and with the Presidents of Egypt and Lebanon. He has met individually with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on several occasions, and he has hosted a trilateral session with them as a step to re-launch negotiations.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met numerous leaders in the region and beyond to advance Middle East peace. And Special Envoy Mitchell continues to visit the region on a near monthly basis. He has met with the heads of state of 13 Arab and Muslim countries, including 3 meetings with Syrian President Bashar al Asad.
Special Envoy Mitchell returned just days ago from the region where he continues to pursue a 2-pronged approach towards reaching Israeli-Palestinian peace: first, to encourage the parties to enter negotiations to reach an agreement on all permanent status issues; and second, to help the Palestinians build their economy and the institutions that will be necessary when a Palestinian state is established. The 2 objectives are mutually reinforcing. Each is essential, and neither can be attained without the other.
As Secretary Clinton has said: "We believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements."
We also recognize that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. And we believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.
Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings, and they can be ended by human beings. The United States can and will facilitate an end to this conflict. We will persist in this pursuit, not only because it is critical for Israelis and Palestinians, but because it is in the interest of the United States and the international community.