Clinton visits Palestinian leaders in West Bank

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a meeting Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday.

The sessions are the first with the Palestinian Authority leaders for the Obama administration. The issues in the region remain complex as Clinton tries to juggle split Palestinian factions and an Israeli government that remains in flux. The United States recognizes the Fatah Party’s Palestinian Authority government, which controls the West Bank. The U.S. considers the militant Hamas party a terrorist organization, but Hamas controls Gaza. “In the absence of Hamas agreeing to the principles that have been adopted by such a broad range of international actors, I don’t see that we or they — or anyone — could deal with Hamas,” Clinton said Tuesday in an interview with CNN. Watch Clinton offer aid for Palestinians ยป Clinton said Hamas must do what the Palestine Liberation Organization has done, which is comply with the principles set out by the so-called Quartet — the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations — and adopted by the Arab League: Renounce violence, recognize Israel and agree to abide by prior PLO commitments. The PLO is the umbrella group that includes Abbas’ Fatah Party.

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The PLO publicly recognized the state of Israel in 1993. “I think no less can be expected of Hamas, which is, obviously, not only a terrorist group but is increasingly a client of Iran,” Clinton told CNN. The interview was conducted a short time after Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who does not support a two-state solution, the bedrock of U.S. policy. “The two-state solution is the inevitable, inescapable outcome of any effort. It is hard to imagine what other positive outcome could be arrived at,” Clinton said.

However, she added, “The future of the Israeli people is up to the democratically elected government of Israel.” The conservative Likud Party’s Netanyahu is trying to form a unity government for Israel after close parliamentary elections in February.