Clinton: First Step to Peace is for Hamas to Stop Rockets

US Secretary Clinton placed the responsibility of making the first step towards peace squarely on Hamas’s shoulders: It must halt rocket attacks.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Clinton and Rabbi Lau at Yad VaShem Tuesday
Clinton and Rabbi Lau at Yad VaShem Tuesday
Israel News Photo: Flash 90

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton placed on Hamas’s shoulders the responsibility to return calm to the region by halting rocket attacks on Israel. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon after conferring with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, she stated, "The first step is a durable peace, but that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks.”

Secretary Clinton also called for a halt in the smuggling of weapons from Egypt, which continues despite the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign and occasional IDF attacks on smuggling tunnels.

Unlike previous American messages that sought a “balance” in blame, she did not couple the halt of attacks with the issue of Gaza border crossings. Israel has restricted shipments of humanitarian aid through the crossings in order to lessen the movement of materials that can be used for terrorist strikes.

The new Secretary of State repeated the American policy of a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian Authority-Israeli conflict. "The road ahead is difficult, but there is no other way,” she stated.

Secretary Clinton, in her first visit to Israel since taking office last month, also said she spoke with Livni about the Iranian nuclear threat and Tehran’s alliance with Hamas. She said that the Obama administration is conducting a policy review to determine where it can “productively engage” diplomatic solutions.

Earlier in the day, she visited the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she spoke with Holocaust survivor and former Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisrael Meir Lau.