January 13, 2009

Clinton says 'no' to Hamas talks

Hillary Clinton says US won't talk to Hamas before it recognizes Israel's right to exist

Yitzhak Benhorin and Reuters

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton told the Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama would not engage in dialogue with Hamas as long as it refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

"You cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements," she said.

Clinton said she and president-elect Barack Obama are "deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself" against Hamas rocket attacks, adding that United States must address Israel's security needs and the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations as part of a pragmatic US foreign policy.

"As intractable as the Middle East problems may seem - and many presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to help work out a resolution - we cannot give up on peace," she said.

"As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians," Clinton said in prepared testimony submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The hearing was interrupted by protesters who chanted slogans and held up pro-Palestinian signs.

'America is back'

The New York Democrat also said the United States must pursue a foreign policy that "effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors."

Clinton was expected to be confirmed as secretary of state but both Republican and Democratic lawmakers raised questions about the fund-raising activities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton for his global foundation.

The Democratic chair of the committee, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, agreed there were still outstanding questions over her husband's fund-raising activities but he said the former New York senator would help turn around foreign opinion toward the United States.

"Her presence overseas will send a strong signal immediately that America is back," Kerry said in his opening statement. "She will take office on a first name basis with numerous heads of state."

No comments:

Post a Comment