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Clinton: Our Commitment to Israel is Rock Solid

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the cameras after arriving in Israel for meetings on a ceasefire.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/20/2012, 11:17 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel on Tuesday night for meetings with officials, in an attempt to achieve a ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Gaza.

Clinton and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made statements to the press shortly before they met one on one.

Netanyahu welcomed Clinton to Jerusalem and noted that Israel was fighting against terrorists who fire barrages of rockets against innocent civilians.

"One of the things that we are doing is trying to resist and counter a terrorist barrage which is aimed directly at our civilians and doing so by minimizing civilian casualties, whereas the terrorist enemies of Israel are doing everything in their power to maximize the number of civilian casualties," Netanyahu told Clinton. "Obviously, no country can tolerate a wanton attack on its civilians."

Secretary of State Clinton said, “President Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message. America’s commitment to Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza.

“The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on these (Israeli) cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored," said Clinton.

"The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike," she added.

The Secretary of State praised Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for taking an active role in trying to achieve a ceasefire. “We appreciate President Morsi’s leadership. As a regional leader, Egypt” has the opportunity to promote the ceasefire process, she noted.

Clinton mentioned the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has been fundamental in saving the lives of Israelis during Gaza rocket attacks, saying, "Our partnership and support of this system represents America's enduring commitment to the safety and security of the Israeli people, and to Israel's right to defend itself. But no defense is perfect, and our hearts break for the loss of every civilian, Israeli and Palestinian, and for all those who have been wounded or who are living in fear and danger, I know today was a difficult day, and I offer my deepest condolences to the loved ones of those who were lost and injured.

"In these days ahead, the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region for an outcome that bolsters security for the peace of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region," she said.

Netanyahu told Clinton he was ready to agree to a "long-term solution" as long as the rocket attacks from Gaza stopped.

"If there's a possibility of achieving a long-term solution for this problem by diplomatic means, we prefer it. But if not, I'm sure you understand that Israel will have to take every action necessary to defend its people," he said.

On Wednesday, Clinton will visit Ramallah and meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.