Thursday, November 6, 2008
Secretary Rice implies Israeli voters have no right to change nation's policy via ballot box - Remarks En Route Tel Aviv, Israel
[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
Two important point from Secretary Condoleezza Rice:
#1. The concessions made to date by the current Government of Israel will
remain confidential - put another way, the Israeli voters won't know what
concessions Livni has already made when they cast their ballots.
#2 "make certain that the progress that they've achieved doesn't go
backwards" = democracy is a nice thing in the USA, but the citizens of
Israel should not have the right to change Israel's policy via the ballot
Remarks En Route Tel Aviv, Israel
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route Tel Aviv, Israel
November 6, 2008
SECRETARY RICE: All right. I'll just make a brief statement and take your
questions since we'll be landing fairly soon.
I'm looking forward to this meeting, this set of meetings. The meetings in
Israel and in the Palestinian Territories are in advance of a meeting of the
Quartet which was requested by the parties to report on their progress in
the negotiated track of Annapolis, that is, to talk about not the substance,
which they continue to want to maintain confidentiality, but to talk with
the international community about sustaining the process, about supporting
it until a two-state solution can be reached.
And so the meeting that we're having in Sharm is that meeting. But I'm going
to go in advance and my purpose here is to continue to work on the Annapolis
process and all of its elements by going to Jenin to look at and, I hope, to
underscore the progress that is being made on the ground in building the
institutions of a future Palestinian state, particularly the security
institutions where there's been significant progress, and then continuing to
talk with the parties about how they might move forward on core issues.
I think it goes without saying that this is a period of political
uncertainty in Israel. There are some political uncertainties also on the
Palestinian side, although I think they will be resolved, and it is our
expectation that the process, the Annapolis process, has laid groundwork
which should make possible the conclusion of the Palestinian state, or the
establishment of a Palestinian state when political circumstances permit.
So with those comments, let me --
QUESTION: When might those circumstances permit? You're talking about after
the Israeli election or after - so it's done and the end of year goal is
SECRETARY RICE: I've learned not to predict in this business, and I think
that the Israeli Government remains committed - the caretaker government
remains committed to the Annapolis goals. What's very important here,
though, is to note that with the kind of international support that the
Quartet meeting represents, the Arab support that is represented by, again,
a meeting between the Quartet and the Arab follow-up committee, the progress
along the track of Annapolis that was to build the institutions of a
Palestinian state, and finally, the robust discussions that the parties are
able to have on core issues. I think that whatever happens by the end of the
year, you've got a firm foundation for quickly moving this forward to
QUESTION: But you seem to recognize that there won't be any agreement. Does
it mean that you would be ready to offer a document or to prepare something,
kind of frame - role - framework that the parties would use in the next - in
SECRETARY RICE: I think the fact is that the parties have a framework
themselves; not in the sense that some people talk about a framework
agreement, but they have established mechanisms, they have established ways
to deal with most of the core issues. They have established - we have
established a way to help them deal with Roadmap obligations, a way to help
them deal with the building of the Palestinian institutions on the ground.
And I think at some point, it will be important to wrap all of that work up
one way or another because, you know, international politics is a continuous
process. It doesn't stop with changes of American administrations. And I
know that there is a solid - that a lot of solid groundwork has been laid
Now you say, is this the end of the process, or someone asked is it the end
of the process for me. As I said, I've learned not to predict. And I expect
to be continuing to work on this with the parties until the day that we
leave. But the important thing is to make certain that there is a
recognition of the substantial progress that they have made, a recognition
of the commitment that these parties have made to concluding the work of
Annapolis, and a solid international foundation of support for what they've
tried to do and what they're going to continue to try to do.
QUESTION: Just to ask the question in a very bald way: Both the parties, at
very senior levels, have said an agreement is not possible this year. Do you
SECRETARY RICE: I am going to - we'll continue to work on this until the day
that we're done. Obviously, Israel is in the midst of elections, and that is
a constraint on the ability of any government to conclude what is the core
conflict, or core issue of conflict, for Israel and the Palestinians and has
been for 40 years. But I think we can sustain momentum. I think we can
sustain international support. I think they can continue to work, as the
government has made clear they intend to do. And we'll see where they are at
the end of the year.
But obviously, Israel is in the middle of an electoral period and that makes
a difference. It is a different circumstance than had a coalition formed. So
I think we have to recognize that. But the Annapolis process, which the
President launched a little over a year ago, or not quite a year ago, I
think has brought them closer to resolution of this conflict than they have
been, maybe ever, and certainly in some time.
QUESTION: One other on this. You said it was going to be important at some
point to wrap all this together. How do you envisage that? Do you, for
example, envisage some kind of a statement or public airing of where they
are to try to memorialize what they have achieved?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm going to continue to respect two principles that have
been very important to keeping this process vital. First of all, that there
is confidentiality about the most serious issues, because they've been the -
they've made very clear, and I think they're right about this, nothing is
agreed until everything is agreed. And in some ways, partial agreements have
the worst of both worlds. You end up creating vetoes when, in fact, when all
of the issues are resolved, people can look at the tradeoffs. And so I think
they're absolutely right to insist that nothing is agreed until all the
things - everything is agreed, and therefore, they do not have to worry
about the United States breaching the confidentiality of their negotiations.
Secondly, we're going to respect the principles - principle which has gotten
us this far, that the United States is assisting the parties in their
bilateral negotiations. And I think that when we get ready to put this all
together, it will be possible to be clearer in how the United States has
assisted. But I'm not going to - I don't think it helps anyone for us to
move away from those two principles, because I think that's why they've
gotten as far as they have.
QUESTION: You mentioned --
QUESTION: You said that they will keep the confidentiality with the Quartet
also. I thought during the UNGA when the Quartet meeting - the Quartet
issued this - its last statement, I thought they were supposed to inform the
Quartet of the advancement of their progress.
SECRETARY RICE: They will inform the Quartet, but I'm quite certain that
everybody understands that there are some elements that are very sensitive,
and I'll leave it to the parties to determine how they're going to approach
the meeting with the Quartet. But I think it will be a very important
briefing for the Quartet, because I think it will help to sustain
international support for the Annapolis process, and that's extremely
QUESTION: You mentioned the follow-up committee, the Arab League follow-up
committee. The Syrians are on that. Are you expecting to see the Syrians
SECRETARY RICE: I don't know which members of the Arab follow-up committee
are coming this time. If the Syrians are there, of course I expect to say
hello to my Syrian counterpart. But I don't know who - which members
(inaudible). It varies sometimes, not - it's a huge follow-up committee, and
they tended to only bring only a few members of it in - at one time.
QUESTION: Right now, the Israeli Government not formed is a problem,
obviously. Are you relieved that Tzipi Livni decided not to form a
government with the Shas, which would have been a problem for the Jerusalem
question? Instead of - she decided not to form it and to wait for February.
Do you think it's a good sign?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not going to comment on internal Israeli politics
or the decisions that Tzipi Livni made. I would note that the government has
remained committed to the process; that she, as Foreign Minister, has
remained committed to the process. And I would just state what is obvious:
In order to create a Palestinian state, all issues are going to have to be
resolved. And that includes - there will have to ultimately be a resolution
of the issue of Jerusalem one way or another.
But I can't comment on and won't comment on her decision. That was her
QUESTION: What about internal U.S. politics after your statement from
yesterday? Would you have preferred if McCain had won?
SECRETARY RICE: I told you I wasn't going to talk about politics before and
I'm not going to talk about politics now. But I think it should have been
obvious to you that I was very moved by what happened, and it's an inspiring
moment for Americans. You know, I was asked by a friend a couple days
before - we're both from Alabama, and she said, did you think you'd ever see
it? And I said yes, but I thought I might be 80. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah.
QUESTION: You talked to - a moment ago about sort of stating the obvious.
Why are you reluctant to just state the obvious, that the end of the year
simply isn't possible?
SECRETARY RICE: Arshad, I said I don't - I've learned never to predict in
this business. But it's clear that the - that we're in a different situation
now because of - Israel is going to elections. And had we -- had the Israeli
Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, formed a coalition, and given that she was
the chief negotiator, I think that would have meant certain things for the
process in terms of perhaps even being able to move toward conclusion that
probably now are very difficult.
But I believe that what we need to do is to continue to advance the process,
continue its momentum, make certain that the progress that they've achieved
doesn't go backwards, because I do think it's important for the parties to
be able to represent to the international community, to the region, and
indeed to their own people that they now have embarked on a process that
they believe will lead to the end of this conflict. And when we set up
Annapolis and launched these negotiations, what they said was they would
make every effort to achieve an agreement by the end of the year. But this
is a conflict of --
SECRETARY RICE: Count it, however many years you want to count it. If you
want to count it at 3,000, you can. But I think you can at least use the
number 40, and given that, the important thing is to get the fundamentals
right. And one of the reasons that we're going to Jenin is that an
underreported and undervalued element of this process is the creation of the
institutions of a future Palestinian state.
I remember early on, we talked about this, that the reason that this is one
of the pillars of Annapolis is that you can't imagine the emergence of an
agreement without the institutions of statehood on the other side. And I
think you will see that with the work that Keith Dayton has done, that
General Jones has done, that Tony Blair has done, but most importantly, that
Salam Fayyad has done, that those institutions of the Palestinian state,
particularly the security institutions, are well on their way to being able
to support and sustain a democratic Palestinian state. And that, perhaps
more important than anything, will make it possible to conclude this
Okay. Thank you.