Last updated: 1 October, 2011

Clinton: Palestinians must be willing to negotiate

The Palestinians need to show flexibility and get back to the negotiating table, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said in an interview with Egypt’s Al-Hayat TV released Saturday.

Asked about the Palestinians’ quest for full recognition at the United Nations, the top US diplomat appeared to try to downplay the importance of the ongoing effort, which Washington opposes and has promised to veto.

She said the US concern was not what happened or did not happen there — but the need for negotiations to resume for real progress to be made.

“President (Barack) Obama and I very much want to see a Palestinian state, and I have been publicly on record in favor of that since the 1990s,” she said, according to a transcript of the interview released by the State Department.

Yet “no matter what happens or doesn’t happen in the United Nations, unless we can get the Palestinians and the Israelis to negotiate over the boundaries of the state, the security provisions, what happens in Jerusalem, what happens with refugees, water, all of the issues we know so well have to be resolved, we’re going to raise expectations without being able to deliver,” Clinton said.

“I want the Palestinians to have their own state; I want them to govern themselves,” she said in the interview on Thursday.

“We want to see both sides back at the table,” Clinton said.

“We don’t want to see provocative actions. We’ve said that about the recent announcements from the Israeli government, but we also know that the Palestinians have to be willing to negotiate,” she said.

“And it’s hard for them because they feel like they’ve been at this for a while and nothing has happened. Both sides have their case to be made. Make it at the negotiating table. And that’s what we’re pushing for,” she said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas made a historic bid for UN membership on September 23. But the United States has vowed to veto the application if it comes to a Security Council vote.

The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East — the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations — has launched a new bid to get direct talks resumed with a firm timetable for an accord.