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tv   At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan  CNN  December 28, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST

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palestinians trying to get them to agree to a framework for a peace deal. those talks broke down in 2014, then ever since then, secretary kerry has been looking for an opportunity to try and get those parties together but unfortunately, they only seem to be growing farther apart. now with the administration leaving office, secretary kerry wanted to lay out i think what he had offered the parties, what he tried to get them to agree to. he will outline the deal as he sees it. of course, previous presidents and secretaries of state tried to do this as they walk out the door. i think the parameters of the deal are very similar but you have to take that into context of the vote last week by the u.n. security council in which the united states by abstaining allowed this resolution to pass, effectiv effectively calling israeli settlements illegal.
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the administration sees these settlements as an obstruction to a deal. there is a reality on the ground which makes the palestinian state not viable. obviously a lot of tension between the u.s. and israel who is accusing secretary kerry of being a covert actor on what he calls a shameful ambush at the u.n. a lot of context and symbolism in the remarks but also a lot of recent tensions that certainly secretary kerry will try to address and deny those charges. >> maybe not unprecedented that he's giving a speech on his way out but maybe unprecedented in terms of the environment that he's giving this speech today. why we are all watching it so very closely. we are watching it here, of course, but you know who is also watching it very closely, benjamin netanyahu, the israeli prime minister. everyone in israel. let's go to oren lieberman whach. oren, what are you hearing? >> i think john kerry will lay
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out his plan for peace, yet i think there's very little he can say that will endear him to prime minister netanyahu or any israeli government right now. they see what happened at the u.n. as effectively a back stabbing. it's unlikely kerry can present a plan that will be more acceptable, especially given what happened in the last few days. prime minister netanyahu, who up until now over the last week hasn't hesitated to bash president barack obama and kerry along with the rest of the netanyahu government or many in the netanyahu government bashing the official administration. netanyahu has gone quiet today. now it seems he's waiting to hear what kerry has to lay out. other ministers, other israeli politicians haven't hesitated to put out a preemptive strikes against kerry but netanyahu is waiting on this one. what do we expect to hear? as elise pointed out, we heard a speech like this before. bill clinton in the year 2000 gave his clinton parameters a couple weeks before he left office. he tried to find some sort of framework, some sort of common ground to solve the most complex
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and difficult issues in the israeli-palestinian conflict, borders, refugees, the status of jerusalem and a few more issues. i suspect we will hear much of the same from kerry. although the clinton speech is known as the clinton parameters, it was thrown out just a few weeks later when george w. bush came into office. it seems president-elect donald trump may be setting up to do the same here. there was a bit of tweet love going back and forth between president-elect trump and prime minister netanyahu just a few minutes ago today. that's the most we have heard from netanyahu once again, just another statement that he's effectively done working with obama here and is ready for president-elect trump in just a few weeks. kate, these few weeks can't go quickly enough for the israeli government. >> as oren mentioned, this is a fascinating element as we are waiting to hear from the secretary of state. we have already heard from the incoming president, kind of a preview of -- preview review of what he thinks he's going to hear and netanyahu responding to him. for our viewers, let me read
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this, coming from donald trump this morning. we cannot continue to let israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. there used to be a great friend in the u.s. but not anymore. the beginning of the end was the horrible iran deal and now this u.n. stay strong, israel. january 20th is fast approaching. that coming from donald trump. netanyahu retweeted it, responded to him, saying president-elect trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for israel. this seems to also be a bit of a clear-cut message right now. >> yes. very interesting. i think when it comes to this dispute, i find it helpful to take out the world israel and put in netanyahu government. because this is not within israel a universally accepted position, this road netanyahu is going down for political reasons that are internal to israeli politics. his bare majority that he got, which is the basis of his administration, involved putting in settlement groups, religious
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groups, strong defense groups, all of which have an aggressive stance toward the settlers. that is not all of israeli public opinion, it is certainly not international opinion. it is a very tricky, difficult kind of situation. donald trump has clearly signaled he's going to stay with the netanyahu government, full steam ahead with the settlements, u.n. be damned, peace process be damned. if that's what john kerry believes, i think we can hear him sort of denounce that in advance today. >> you covered john kerry extensively. you traveled with him, profiled him. what do you think in this late moment not unpre presprecedente maybe against the backdrop he's giving this speech, unusual. what do you think he hopes to achieve with this speech at this very big moment? >> i think he hopes to burnish his legacy. he talked with me privately and talked publicly about how passionately he believed in the need for a two-state solution. that is what this is all about. if the settlements continue to grow the obama administration
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argues there cannot be a two-state solution. i think kerry, this is his last ditch effort to save that solution. i agree with errol, this is also very important domestically in israel. it's a plus for netanyahu, criticizing obama helps him with his base. in israel, all politics is local. that's why he's being so vocal about this. >> that's a really interesting point. it's always important to try to understand who exactly the audience is for john kerry today. >> his audience seems to be more global because if you look at the political trends and back home in the united states right now, they seem to be trending firmly behind israel because of the incoming trump administration but this also cuts across party lines. chuck schumer wasn't happy with what happened at the u.n. last week and steny hoyer, democrat from maryland, minority whip, he issued a scathing statement directed at kerry today. in regards to his speech.
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so this also is exposing a rift in the democratic party which is still trying to get themselves back together after this devastating election. so it doesn't seem like kerry is talking as much to people back home as he is to folks watching abroad. >> elise, trying to help facilitate, trying to help negotiate mideast peace was a top priority for john kerry coming in. so now as he is leaving, does he count this as a failure? >> well, it's funny, i was just going to say i spoke to secretary kerry recently in an interview for a piece we have today on cnn.com and he was very defensive about the idea that he failed in the peace process. he got very animated and said i didn't fail, the u.s. didn't fail, the parties failed to make the necessary concessions that they needed to make, not only in terms of the deal itself but did not prepare its people for those compromises that needed to be
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made. now, secretary kerry's critics would say that he was a little bit naive in terms of it being the right time, that the climate was not ready, there was so much mistrust between the parties that it was really doomed from the start for him to try, but when he came to office and don't forget, as chairman of the senate foreign relations committee for a long time, he had seen this in action, he had very close relationships with the parties, and he felt that if he didn't make an effort that this two-state solution, the idea of a palestinian state side by side would be, you know, would be lost, would be at risk. so that's why he said i'm not afraid to fail. we need to try and that's what he continued to the last day. now, i don't think he thinks that this deal or these parameters that he might lay out today are something that the trump administration or the parties are going to take on right now but what he will say is that the parties needed to get back to the table at some point. a deal is really the only way to
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resolve the conflict. unless they do that, this will continue. he hopes this could be the basis for those talks in the future, when the parties are ready. >> david, do you get the sense that -- john kerry wanted to give a speech like this for quite awhile. i was reading the white house had held him back from doing that. do you get a sense the speech has changed in the last week? >> i think it will be more blunt. in his mind maybe he thinks if he lays out a possible solution, maybe there were things, concessions made in private by both sides that they don't want to make public themselves, that he thinks this could be a road map. bill clinton tried the same thing and it didn't work. one of the problems here is i think the administration was very cautious, there was this overriding sense that clinton was leading in the polls and would win the election so they didn't want him giving this kind of speech in 2016 at all. now it's coming very late, it might help in the long run but in the short term, clearly trump is going to declare it irrelevant. >> oren, from your perspective, everyone has pointed out the
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parameters of a deal, parameters of a peace deal are relatively well known. it's having the will and leadership to get there and do it. if that's the case, why then has the prime minister of israel been so opposed to john kerry giving a speech like this? >> well, it's not only john kerry, it's sort of the international community trying to weigh in on the peace process that netanyahu has repeated over and over again should just be between israelis and palestinians. both sides, it's worth pointing out, the leadership have said they are ready to come to the table right now, any time, anywhere, then point the finger at each other. that is why the international community has felt that now is the time to step in, behind the obama administration and kerry. no surprise here, we will say this again, we said it 100 times before, there are just bad relations between netanyahu and obama and perhaps netanyahu feels that any peace deal that obama tries to weigh in on wouldn't be pro-israel, might be pro-palestinian and that may be
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some of the animosity here. it's the fact netanyahu said repeatedly he doesn't want this to be internationalized. he wants it to be direct negotiations and yet the palestinians have made it clear they don't trust him on that. as further evidence of that point, there's an international peace conference scheduled for january 15th in maparis, 70 nations coming together to find consensus on how to solve these issues. netanyahu has said he's not attending. >> so if it's known netanyahu didn't want a speech like this to happen, if he thinks this would tie israel's hands in terms of any movement in negotiation, and kerry you would assume knows that, is this another parting shot? the u.n. vote, u.n. security council vote was widely soon ee a parting shot from the obama administration. is this speech another parting shot? >> i don't know if it's entirely that petty or that sort of focused just on this moment but it is certainly a legacy statement.
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both president obama, john kerry, hillary clinton for that matter, architects of the obama foreign policy over the last eight years, they want to make a statement about what they intended and if you go back to the cairo speech from 2009, when he tried to reset, the president tried to reset the relationship, the entire muslim world, one part of that entire doctrine was to try and make the peace process move forward to try and take it off the table as an irritant, as a rallying point for jihad and radical extremists. that was what they wanted at a minimum. looks like they didn't even accomplish that minimum. i think they will try to make the case that what they did made sense and that while they failed, it wasn't entirely sort of a bad idea. i think that's what we will hear. >> fascinating will be the reaction abroad, of course, but on capitol hill, you touched on this a little bit, how do you -- what do you expect reaction's going to be and on this issue of
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we heard this from senator lindsey graham and others, this kind of idea gaining steam of now pulling u.n. funding from washington because of what happened at the u.n. security council. is that gaining more steam? is that likely to happen? >> the pro-netanyahu parts of congress certainly have a foothold. no one really changes their mind on this unless you are donald trump and are in the middle and now you actually have an opinion because of the people you are surrounding yourself with. for sure, the folks in congress that are more aligned with netanyahu are going to have a foothold. i wanted to add something to what errol said about john kerry and actually, it was in elise's fantastic piece that posted today about how john kerry just doesn't give up. he's not going to let this go. i think what elise wrote was he's going to work until the whistle blows and so i think that's also part of this. it's something he wanted to do and it's going to be done because john kerry is not going
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to stop until he's out the door. >> what impact that will have, we will see. any minute now, that's exactly what we are waiting for. stick around with me. we are keeping an eye right there at the state department. any minute, secretary of state john kerry as we have been laying out his vision for a path to peace in the middle east. possibly the most important speech of his career. his legacy on the line. we will bring you that speech live, the fallout here in the united states and abroad will be swift. we will see. plus this. president-elect donald trump never far from twitter even though he's on vacation right now. just this morning telling israel to stay strong, january 20th is fast approaching. again, taking another hit at president obama over what trump called a not so smooth transition. much more on that ahead.
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we are standing by right now watching the state department, that room right there where secretary of state john kerry will take to the stage any minute now. looks
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of the situation on twitter writing this. we cannot continue to let israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. they used to have a good friend in the u.s. but not anymore. the beginning of the end was the horrible iran deal and now this, u.n. stay strong. january 20th is fast approaching. senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny is joining me from palm beach where the president-elect is staying. what else are you hearing, are you hearing from the transition or are we hearing from the president-elect on this? >> reporter: certainly donald trump is making it clear that trying to send a message to israel that he will have a different policy. now, the secretary of state's speech today is not designed to refute any of the president-elect's comments but that's essentially what we are going to see play out in real-time here. the divergence of views on israel and the middle east. but we are also watching an
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extraordinary back and forth between the president-elect and the current sitting president, the 44th president, barack obama, between the president-elect and the current sitting president, the 44th president, barack obama, over rising tensions and donald trump a short time ago this morning tweeted out this about president obama. let's take a look. he said i'm doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory president obama statements and road blocks. i thought it was going to be a smooth transition. not. it appears that the president-elect was referring to a speech that president obama gave yesterday in hawaii when he talked about the rising acrimony and vitriol in u.s. politics. >> it is here that we remember even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must
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resist the urge -- >> i have to cut it off. let's go to the state department. secretary of state john kerry. >> today i want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world. the israeli-palestinian conflict. throughout his administration, president obama has been deeply committed to israel and its security and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the middle east. this is an issue which all of you know i have worked on intensively during my time as secretary of state for one simple reason. because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between israelis and palestinians.
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it is the only way to ensure israel's future as a jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. it is the only way to ensure a future, freedom and dignity for the palestinian people and it is an important way of advancing united states interests in the region. now, i would like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy and provide some context for why we could not in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the united nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace. i'm also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act, and
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i want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve. so it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody's interest, not the israelis, not the palestinians, not the region, and not the united states. now, i want to stress that there is an important point here. my job above all is to defend the united states of america, to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world, and if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so, we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold, which promises greater conflict and
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instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities. regrettably, some seem to believe that the u.s. friendship means the u.s. must accept any policy regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles, even after urging again and again that the policy must change. friends need to tell each other the hard truths and friendships require mutual respect. israel's permanent representative to the united nations who
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that's what we are trying to preserve. for our sake. and for theirs. in fact, this administration has been israel's greatest friend and supporter with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing israel's security and protecting its legitimacy. on this point, i want to be very clear. no american administration has done more for israel's security than barack obama's. the israeli prime minister himself has noted our quote, unprecedented military intelligence cooperation. our military exercises are more advanced than ever. our assistance for iron dome has
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saved countless israeli lives. we have consistently supported israel's right to defend itself by itself including during actions in gaza that sparked great controversy. time and again we have demonstrated that we have israel's back. we have strongly opposed boycotts and sanctions targeting israel in international forum. whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the u.n. system. in the midst of our own financial crisis, and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support israel. in fact, more than one-half of our entire global foreign military financing goes to israel. this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package
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the united states has provided to any country at any time. that will invest in cutting edge missile defense and sustain israel's qualitative military edge for years to come. that's the measure of our support. this commitment to israel's security is actually very personal for me. on my first trip to israel as a young senator in 1986, i was captivated by a special country, one that i immediately admired and soon grew to love. over the years like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, i have swum in the dead sea, driven from one biblical city to another. i have also seen the dark side, hezbollah's rocket storage facilities just across the border in lebanon, walked through the exhibits of the hell of the holocaust, stood on the golan heights and piloted an
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israeli jet othver the tiny air space of israel which would make anyone understand the importance of security to israelis. out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to israel's security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the senate or my four years as secretary. i have also often visited west bank communities where i met palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care. i have witnessed first-hand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. i have seen israeli children
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whose playgrounds had been hit by rockets. i visited shelters next to schools, the kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. i have also seen the devastation of war in the gaza strip where palestinian girls played in the rubble of a bombed-out building. no children, israeli or palestinian, should have to live like that. so despite the obvious difficulties that i understood when i became secretary of state, i knew that i had to do everything in my power to help end this conflict and i was grateful to be working for president obama, who is prepared to take risks for peace and was deeply committed to that effort. like previous u.s. administrations, we have committed our influence and our resources to trying to resolve the arab-israeli conflict
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because yes, it would serve american interests to stabilize a volatile region and fulfill america's commitment to the survival, security and wellbeing of an israel at peace with its arab neighbors. despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. the truth is that trends on the ground, violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation, they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want. today, there are a number -- there are a similar number of jews and palestinians living between the jordan river and the
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mediterranean sea. they have a choice. they can choose to live together in one state or they can separate into two states. but here is a fundamental reality. if the choice is one state, israel can either be jewish or democratic. it cannot be both. about the
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future. one state or two states. is effectively being made on the
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ground every single day despite the express opinion of the majority of the people. the status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. with this, it's exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement which are destroying belief in the possibility of peace. let me say it again. there is absolutely no justification for terrorism and there never will be. in the most recent wave of palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings.
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many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. yet the murderers of innocents are still glorified on web sites including showing attackers next to palestinian leaders following attacks and despite statements by president abbas and his party's leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists. president obama and i made it clear to the palestinian leadership countless times publicly and privately that all incitement to violence must stop. we have consistently condemned violence and terrorism and even condemned the palestinian leadership for not condemning it. far too often the palestinians have pursued efforts to
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delegitimize israel in international fora. we strongly opposed these initiatives including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory unesco resolution regarding jerusalem. we have made clear our strong opposition to palestinian efforts against israel at the icc which only sets back the prospects for peace. we all understand that the palestinian authority has a lot more to do to strengthen its institutions and improve governance. most troubling of all, hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda. they refuse to accept israel's very right to exist. they have a one-state vision of their own. all of the land is palestine. hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence and many of the images they use are truly appalling.
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they are willing to kill innocents in israel, to put the people of gaza at risk to advance that agenda. compounding this, the humanitarian situation in gaza exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. gaza is home to one of the world's densest concentrations of people, enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities. 1.3 million people out of gaza's population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance. food and shelter. most have electricity less than half the time and only 5% of the water is safe to drink. yet despite the urgency of these needs, hamas and other militant groups continue to rearm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on israeli civilians that no government can
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tolerate. now, at the same time, we have to be clear about what is happening in the west bank. the israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution but his current coalition is the most right wing in israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. the result is that policies of this government which the prime minister himself just described has more committed to settlements than any in israel's history, are leaning in the opposite direction. they are leaning towards one state. in fact, israel is increasingly consolidated control over much of the west bank for its own purposes, effectively reversing the transitions to greater palestinian civil authority that were called for by the oslo accords. i don't think most people in israel, certainly in the world,
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have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become, but the facts speak for themselves. the number of settlers in the roughly 130 israeli settlements each of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. the settler population in the west bank alone, not including east jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since oslo including 100,000 just since 2009, when president obama's term began. there's no point in pretending that these are just in large settlement blocks. nearly 90,000 settlers are living east of the separation barrier that was created by israel itself, in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be the future palestinian state. and the population of these
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distant settlements has grown by 20,000 just since 2009. in fact, just recently, the government approved a significant new settlement well east of the barrier, closer to jordan than to israel. what does that say to palestinians in particular, but also to the united states and the world, about israel's intentions? let me emphasize this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict. of course they are not. nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you would have peace without a broader agreement. you would not. we understand that in a final status agreement, certain settlements would become part of israel to account for the changes that had taken place over the last 49 years. we understand that. including the new democratic
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demographic realities that exist on the ground. they would have to be factored in. but if more and more settlers are moving into the middle of palestinian areas, it's going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating. let's be clear. settlement expansion has nothing to do with israel's security. many settlements actually increase the security burden on the israeli defense forces and leaders of the settler movement are motivated by idealogical imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate palestinian aspirations. among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under israel's own laws. they are often located on
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private palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. there are over 100 of these outposts and since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized despite pledges by past israeli governments to dismantle many of them. now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts. for the first time, it would apply israeli domestic law to the west bank rather than military law which is a major step towards the process of annexation. when the law passed first reading in the israeli parliament, one of the chief proponents said proudly, and i quote, today the israeli kinesset moved from heading
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towards establishing a palestinian state towards israeli sovereignty in judea and sumaria. even the israeli attorney general said the draft law is unconstitutional and a violation of international law. now, you may hear from advocates that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace because the settlers who don't want to leave can just stay in palestine like the arab israelis who live in israel, but that misses a critical point, my friends. the arab israelis are citizens of israel, subject to israel's law. does anyone here really believe the settlers will agree to submit to palestinian law in palestine? likewi likewise, some supporters of the settlements argue the settlers could just stay in their settlements and remain as israeli citizens in their separate enclaves in the middle of palestine, protected by the
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idf. well, there are over 80 settlements east of the separation barrier, many located in places that would make the continuous -- a contiguous palestinian state impossible. does anyone seriously think if they just stay where they are, you could still have a viable palestinian state? some have asked why can't we build in the blocks, which everyone knows will eventually be part of israel. well, the reason building there or anywhere else in the west bank now results in such pushback is that the decision of what constitutes a block is being made unilaterally by the israeli government without consultation, without the consent of the palestinians, and without granting the palestinians a reciprocal right to build in what will be by most accounts part of palestine. bottom line, without agreement
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or mutuality, the unilateral choices become a major point of contention and that is part of why we are here where we are. you may hear that these remote settlements aren't a problem because they only take up a very small percentage of the land. well, again, and again, we have made it clear it's not just a question of the overall amount of land available in the west bank. it's whether the land can be connected or is broken up into small parcels like swiss cheese that could never constitute a real state. the more outposts that are built, the more the settlements expand, the less possible it is to create a contiguous state. so in the end, a settlement is not just the land that it's on. it's also what the location does to the movement of people, what it does to the ability of a road to connect people one community to another. what it does to the sense of statehood that is chipped away
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with each new construction. no one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of what the settlements pose to that peace. but the problem obviously goes well beyond settlements. trends indicate a comprehensive effort to take the west bank land for israel and prevent any palestinian development there. today, the 60% of the west bank known as area c, much of which was supposed to be transferred to palestinian control long ago under the oslo accords, much of it is effectively off limits to palestinian development. most today has essentially been taken for exclusive use by israel simply by unilaterally designating it as state land or including it within the jurisdiction of regional
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settlement councils. israeli farms flourish in the jordan river valley and israeli resorts line the shores of the dead sea. a lot of people don't realize this. they line the shore of the dead sea where palestinian development is not allowed. in fact, almost no private palestinian building is approved in area c at all, only one permit was issued by israel in all of 2014 and 2015 while approvals for hundreds of settlement units were advanced during that same period. moreover, palestinian structures in area c that do not have a permit from the israeli military are potentially subject to demolition and they are currently being demolished at an historically high rate, over 3100 palestinians, including 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone, more
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than any previous year. so the settler agenda is defining the future of israel and their stated purpose is clear. they believe in one state, greater israel. in fact, one prominent minister who heads a pro-settler party declared just after the u.s. election, and i quote, the era of the two-state solution is over, end quote, and many other coalition ministers publicly reject a palestinian state. they are increasingly getting their way with plans for hundreds of new units in east jerusalem recently announced and talk of a major new settlement building effort in the west bank to follow. so why are we so concerned? why does this matter? well, ask yourselves these questions. what happens if that agenda succeeds? where does that lead? there are currently about 2.75
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million palestinians living under military occupation in the west bank. most of them in areas a and b. 40% of the west bank. where they have limited autonomy. they are restricted in their daily movements by a web of check points and unable to travel into or out of the west bank without a permit from the israelis so if there is only one state, you would have millions of palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the west bank with no real political rights, separate legal education and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms. separate and unequal is what you would have. and nobody can explain how that works. would an israeli accept living that way? would an american accept living that way? will the world accept it?
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if the occupation becomes permanent over the time the palestinian authority could simply dissolve, turn over all the administrator and security responsibilities to the israelis. who would administer schools and hospitals and on what basis? does israel want to pay for billions of dollars of lost international how would israel respond to a growing sieving rights move frnt in palestinians demanding a right to vote or widespread protests and unrest across the west bank? how does israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? how does the u.s. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals? nobody has ever provided good answers to those questions, because there aren't any. and there would be an increasing risk of more intense violence between palestinians and
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settlers and complete despair among palestinians that would create very fertile ground for extremists. with all of the external threats that israel faces today, which we are very cognizant of and working with them to deal with, does it really want an intensifying conflict in the west bank? how does that help israel's security? how does that help the region? the answer is, it doesn't. which is precisely why so many senior israeli military and intelligence leaders past and present believe the two-state solution is the only real answer for israel's long-term security. now, one thing we do know. if israel goes down the one-state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the arab world, and i can say that with certainty. the arab countries have made
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clear that they will not make peace with israel without resolving the israeli/palestinian conflict. that's not where their loyalties lie or where their politics are, but there is something new here. common interests in countering iran's destabilizing activities, in fighting extreme s as well as diversifying their economies. this has created real possibilities for something different, if israel takes advantage of the opportunities for peace. i have spent a great deal of time with key arab leaders exploring this. and there is no doubt that they are prepared to have a fundamentally different relationship with israel. that was stated in the arab peace initiative years ago. and in all my recent conversations, arab leaders have confirmed their readiness in the context of israeli/palestinian peace, not just to normalize
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relations, but to work openly on securing that peace with significant regional security cooperation. it's waiting. it's right there. many have shown a willingness to support serious israeli/palestinian negotiations, and to take steps on the path to normalization to relations. including public meetings, providing there is a meaningful progress towards a two-state solution. my friends, that is a real opportunity that we should not allow to be missed. that raises one final question -- is ours the generation that gives up on the dream of a jewish democratic state of israel living in peace and security with its neighbors? because that is really what is at stake. now, that is what informed our vote at the security council last week. the need to preserve the
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two-state solution. and both sides in this conflict must take responsibility to do that. we have repeatedly and emphatically stressed to the palestinians that all incitement to violence must stop. we have consistently condemned all violence and terrorism and we have strongly opposed unilateral efforts to delegitimize israel in international fora. we have made countless public and private exhortations to the israelis to stop the march of settlements. in literally hundreds of conversations with prime minister netanyahu, i have made clear that continued settlement activity would only increase pressure for an international response. we have all known for some time that the palestinians were intent on moving forward in the u.n. with a settlements resolution, and i advised prime minister repeatedly that further settlement activity only invited u.n. action. yet the settlement activity just
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increased, including advancing the unprecedented legislation to legalize settler outposts that the prime minister himself reportedly warned could expose israel to action at the security council and even international prosecution, before deciding to support it. in the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. we could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. it is not in u.s. interests to help anyone on either side create a unitary state, and we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. and it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies. that is why we decided not to
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block the u.n. resolution that makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. we did not take this decision lightly. the obama administration has always defended israel against any effort at the u.n. and any international fora or biased and one-sided resolutions that sought to undermine its legitimacy or security, and that has not change. didn't change with this vote, but, remember, it's important to note that every united states administration, republican and democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace, and action at the u.n. security council is far from unprecedented. in fact, previous administrations of both political parties have allowed resolutions that were critical of israel to pass, including on settlements, on dozens of
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occasions under george w. bush alone the council passed six resolutions that israel opposed, including one that endorsed a plan calling for a complete freeze on settlements, including natural growth. let me read you the lead paragraph from a "new york times" story dated december 23rd. i quote -- "with the united states abstaining the security council adopt add resolution today strongly deploring israel's handling of the disturbances in the occupied territories, which the resolution defined as including jerusalem. all of the 14 other security council members voted in favor." my friends that story was not written last week. it was written december 23, 1987. 26 years to the day that we voted last week when ronald reagan was president.
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yet despite growing pressure, the obama administration held a strong line against u.n. action, any u.n. action. we were the only administration since 1967 that had not allowed any resolution to pass that israel opposed. in fact, the only time in eight years the obama administration exercised its veto at the united stat states -- united nations was a against a settlement in 2011, and the that resolution did not mention incitement or violence. now, let's look at what's happened since then. since then, there have been over 30,000 settlement units advanced through some stage of the planning process. that's right. over 30,000 settlements units advanced notwithstanding the positions of the united states and other countries, and if we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the united states
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would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose. so we reject the criticism that this vote abandons israel. on the contrary. it is not this resolution that is isolating israel. it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. virtually, every country in the world other than israel opposes settlements. that includes many of the friends of israel, including the united kingdom, france, russia. all of whom voted in favor of the settlements resolution in 2011 we vetoed and again this year along with every other member of the council. in fact, this resolution simply reaffirms statements made by the security council on the legality of settlements over several decades. it does not break new ground.
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in 1978, the state department legal adviser advised the congress of his conclusion that israel's government, the israeli government's program of establishing civilian settlements in the occupied territory is inconsistent with international law. and we see no change since then to effect that fundamental conclusion. now, you may have heard that some criticized this resolution for calling east jerusalem occupied territory. but to be clear, there was absolutely nothing new in last week's resolution on that issue. it was one of a long line of security council resolutions that included east jerusalem as part of the territories occupied by israel in 1967. and that includes resolutions passed by the security council under president reagan and president george h.w. bush.

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