SECRETARY KERRY: I’m delighted to stand here – I think it’s still
morning – it is still – with Minister Tzipi Livni and Dr. Saeb Erekat,
both of whom I’ve had the privilege of knowing for some period of time
and enjoyed working with for all of it.
As all of you know, it
has taken an awful lot of work and a long time, a lot of time, to reach
this new moment of possibility in the pursuit of an end to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s taken the leadership of President
Obama, who set this process in motion with his historic visit to the
region this spring. And then he spoke powerfully about the necessity and
possibility of peace, not only to the leaders but also to citizens who
overwhelmingly hope for a better future for their children and for their
countries, for their peoples.
The President’s support for our
efforts, including his personal engagement with the parties this
morning, has been essential, and I thank him for that. And we had a very
positive meeting with the President and the Vice President earlier this
morning at the White House. I want to also emphasize that Prime
Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have both demonstrated courageous
leadership to bring us here, and I commend them for the tough choices
that they made in terms of the politics at home.
I know the path
is difficult. There is no shortage of passionate skeptics. But with
capable, respected negotiators, like Minister Tzipi Livni and Dr. Saeb
Erekat, standing side by side here today and last night sharing an Iftar
meal together with all of us, with their efforts, their expertise, and
their commitment, I’m convinced that we can get there.
today because the Israeli people and the Palestinian people both have
leaders willing to heed the call of history, leaders who will stand
strong in the face of criticism and are right now for what they know is
in their people’s best interests. Their commitment to make tough
choices, frankly, should give all of us hope that these negotiations
actually have a chance to accomplish something.
I’m pleased to
report that in the conversations we’ve had last night and again today,
we’ve had constructive and positive meetings, both meetings with the
United States present and also meetings with the parties by themselves.
The parties have agreed to remain engaged in sustained, continuous, and
substantive negotiations on the core issues, and they will meet within
the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian Territories in
order to begin the process of formal negotiation.
have agreed here today that all of the final status issues, all of the
core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation.
And they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the
conflict, ending the claims. Our objective will be to achieve a final
status agreement over the course of the next nine months. The parties
also agreed that the two sides will keep the content of the negotiations
confidential. The only announcement you will hear about meetings is the
one that I just made. And I will be the only one, by agreement,
authorized to comment publicly on the talks, in consultation, obviously,
with the parties. That means that no one should consider any reports,
articles, or other – or even rumors – reliable, unless they come
directly from me, and I guarantee you they won’t.
States will work continuously with both parties as a facilitator every
step of the way. We all understand the goal that we’re working towards:
two states living side by side in peace and security. Two states because
two proud peoples each deserve a country to call their own. Two states
because the children of both peoples deserve the opportunity to realize
their legitimate aspirations in security and in freedom. And two states
because the time has come for a lasting peace.
We all appreciate –
believe me – we appreciate the challenges ahead. But even as we look
down the difficult road that is before us and consider the complicated
choices that we face, we cannot lose sight of something that is often
forgotten in the Middle East, and that is what awaits everybody with
success. We need to actually change the way we think about compromise in
order to get to success. Compromise doesn’t only mean giving up
something or giving something away; reasonable principled compromise in
the name of peace means that everybody stands to gain. Each side has a
stake in the other’s success, and everyone can benefit from the
dividends of peace.
We simply wouldn’t be standing here if the
leaders – President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu – and their
designated negotiators and all of us together didn’t believe that we
could get there. We can envision a day when Palestinians can finally
realize their aspirations for a flourishing state of their own, and the
groundbreaking economic initiative that we’ve been working on the with
the Quartet and with Tony Blair and others, with the help of the private
sector, can help transform the Palestinian economy and build up
unprecedented markets and unblocked waves of foreign investment. And we
shouldn’t forget that the new jobs, the new homes, the new industries
that can grow in a new Palestinian state will also benefit Israelis next
door, where a vibrant economy will find new partners.
also envision a day when Israelis actually can truly live in peace – not
just the absence of conflict, but a full and a lasting peace with Arab
and Muslim nations, an end once and for all to the pernicious attacks on
Israel’s legitimacy. Israel and – Israelis and Palestinians both have
legitimate security concerns. Our commitment to Israel’s security is why
President Obama’s Administration has done more than any before it to
strengthen our unshakeable bond and why General John Allen is on the
ground working to ensure Israel’s security needs will be met. And I
emphasize we have worked very closely with our Palestinian friends to
help develop Palestinian security capacity. And we cannot forget that
the security of Israel will also benefit Palestinians next door.
Israeli Government has recognized this, which is why it will be taking
in the next days and weeks a number of steps in order to improve
conditions in the West Bank and in Gaza. And the Palestinian security
forces have recognized this, which is why we have seen such a dramatic
improvement in law and order and such a dramatic decrease in terror
attacks originating from the West Bank.
The Israeli and
Palestinian people understand their common interests, and that’s why
they continue to take positive steps on the ground to improve relations
between themselves. I also want to point out that the Arab League
understands this too, which is why it has reaffirmed the Arab Peace
Initiative and provided vital statements of support for this process.
I’d just say everywhere I go, leaders from around the world understand
that they share a stake in this endeavor’s success. They all have a role
to play, which is why they have continued to contribute to this effort,
to advise, to make commitments of support, and to push and advocate and
encourage the parties every step of the way. And President Obama and I
joined in thanking all of them for their concern and initiative.
many things are already happening. When somebody tells you that
Israelis and Palestinians cannot find common ground or address the
issues that divide them, don’t believe them. Just look at the things
they are doing together and trying to do together. There are many
reasons why we need to solve this conflict, but none more important than
the security and dignity of the next generations of Israelis and
Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and the generations who
will follow them and benefit from these negotiations hopefully.
think everyone involved here believes that we cannot pass along to
another generation the responsibility of ending a conflict that is in
our power to resolve in our time. They should not be expected to bear
that burden, and we should not leave it to them. They should not be
expected to bear the pain of continued conflict or perpetual war.
while I understand the skepticism, I don’t share it and I don’t think
we have time for it. I firmly believe the leaders, the negotiators, and
citizens invested in this effort can make peace for one simple reason:
because they must. A viable two-state solution is the only way this
conflict can end, and there is not much time to achieve it, and there is
no other alternative. We all need to be strong in our belief in the
possibility of peace, courageous enough to follow through on our faith
in it, and audacious enough to achieve what these two peoples have so
long aspired to and deserve.
MR. EREKAT: Thank
you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Minister Livni. On behalf of President
Mahmoud Abbas, I would like to extend our deepest appreciation to
President Barack Obama and to you, Secretary Kerry, for your relentless
efforts and unwavering commitment to achieve a just, comprehensive,
lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians have
suffered enough, and no one benefits more from the success of this
endeavor more than Palestinians. I am delighted that all final status
issues are on the table and will be resolved without any exceptions, and
it’s time for the Palestinian people to have an independent, sovereign
state of their own. It’s time for the Palestinian people to have an
independent, sovereign state of their own. It’s time for the
Palestinians to live in peace, freedom, and dignity within their own
independent, sovereign state.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Minister Livni.
MINISTER LIVNI: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Kerry, on behalf
of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli Government, and the state of
Israel for your determination, for not giving up, because you need to
know that I think it was our first meeting during this process that you
said to me that failure is not an option. And you proved today that
failure is not an option. And this is the man, Secretary Kerry, who
showed everyone that nothing can stop true believers. And thank you for
I also want to thank President Obama for his personal
commitment to peace and to Israel’s security. The powerful impression
left by the President’s last visit to Israel still remains in the hearts
of the Israeli people. We came here today – Mr. Molho, the Special
Envoy of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and myself – after years of
stalemate. We came here today from a troubled and changing region. We
are hopeful, but we cannot be naive. We cannot afford it in our region.
We owe it to our people to do everything, but everything we can for
their security and for the hope of peace for future generations.
it took more than just a plane ticket to be here today. A courageous
act of leadership by Prime Minister Netanyahu that was approved by the
Israeli Government made this visit here and the beginning of the
negotiation possible. We all know that it’s not going to be easy. It’s
going to be hard, with ups and downs. But I can assure you that these
negotiations – in these negotiations, it’s not our intention to argue
about the past, but to create solutions and make decisions for the
You know, Saeb, we all spent some time in the
negotiations room. We didn’t reach dead end in the past, but we didn’t
complete our mission. And this is something that we need to do now in
these negotiations that will be launched today. A new opportunity is
being created for us, for all of us, and we cannot afford to waste it.
Now, I hope that our meeting today and the negotiations that we have
re-launched today will cause, I hope, a spark of hope, even if small, to
emerge out of cynicism and pessimism that is so often heard. It is our
task to work together so that we can transform that spark of hope into
something real and lasting.
And finally, I believe that history
is not made by cynics. It is made by realists who are not afraid to
dream. And let us be these people. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very, very much.