Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, second from right, along with Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell at the State Department in Washington on Thursday.
The mood in Washington on Thursday, the first day of revived peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, was decidedly optimistic, with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing that they could strike a deal within a year. —KA
Netanyahu again called Abbas his “partner in peace” and said he was prepared to make “painful concessions” to reach a deal. But the Israeli prime minister said that what he called the “two pillars to peace” must be resolved.
Clinton launched the negotiations by calling for the two leaders to show themselves as bold and courageous statesmen and reach a comprehensive peace agreement within the one year deadline set by Barack Obama. “We understand the suspicion and scepticism that so many feel born out of years of conflict and frustrated hopes,” she said. “But by being here today you each have taken an important step toward freeing your peoples from the shackles of a history we cannot change.”
Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to make sacrifices to reach an agreement. “Together we can lead our people to a historic future that can put an end to claims and to conflict. This will not be easy. A true peace, a lasting peace, will be achieved only with mutual and painful concessions from both sides … from my side and from your side,” he said.