From the middle to the end of last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, special Middle East envoy George Mitchell and the State Department were calling on Israel-Palestinian peace talks, talking about Israel's and Jerusalem's borders and threatening to freeze U.S. loan guarantees for Israel.
Throughout this week, the focus of the U.S. Secretary of State and the State Department has been the devastation in Haiti.
It is terribly tragic that tens of thousands of Haitians have lost their lives with many barely holding on. We certainly don't want to be trite and insensitive to this devastating tragedy; but you will read below about events that transpired concerning Israel's and Jerusalem's future borders, the Clintons, the U.N. and Haiti while the Haitian people experienced yet another enormous national tragedy.
The Christian missionaries I know how have served in Haiti love the Haitian people and are very sad by what has happened. Haiti has also has had a very dark history, as explained below by Pat Robertson and Albert Mohler.
Putting things in perspective, last week at this time, Secretary of State Clinton and the U.S. State Department were focused on the Israelis and Palestinians, Israel and Jerusalem, and were ready to deliver their plan.
Last Friday, Clinton and her Jordanian counterpart called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to get back to the peace table.
This week, Clinton’s Asian travel plans were disrupted — causing her to return home from Hawaii — while her office has been handling a very high volume of calls concerning the welfare of 40,000 to 45,000 U.S. citizens in Haiti.
This Monday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was focused on the Israeli-Palestinian talks; but the next day, he was responding to the total destruction of the U.N. peacekeeping office in Haiti and mourning the largest one-day loss of employees in the U.N.'s history.
While Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, has been busy overseeing the disaster relief for the U.N. and the United States, his former top aide, Dennis Ross, has been working on a formula for the future boundaries of Jerusalem.
The following is the chronology from Wednesday, Jan. 6, to Thursday, Jan. 14:
Wednesday, Jan. 6
Charlie Rose interviews US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell
GEORGE MITCHELL: Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel. President George W. Bush did so …
CHARLIE ROSE: Exactly.
GEORGE MITCHELL: … on one occasion.
CHARLIE ROSE: And his father.
GEORGE MITCHELL: Well, the law that the most recent President Bush acted under wasn't in place at the time of the first President Bush. So there were different mechanisms. That's one mechanism that's been publicly discussed. There are others, and you have to keep open whatever options. But our view is that we think the way to approach this is to try to persuade the parties what is in their self-interest. And we think that we are making some progress in that regard and we’re going to continue in that effort, and we think the way to do it is to get them into negotiations.
Friday, Jan. 8
Secretary of State Clinton urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations and to focus immediately on agreeing the borders of a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem, suggesting this could break the deadlock over settlements.
Excerpt from Clinton's remark during her press conference with her Jordanian counterpart, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan:
Video and transcript:
We also share a commitment to seeking a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution. We are working with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the Arab states to take the steps needed to re-launch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions, which is in the interests of everyone in the region.
The United States believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.
Both the United States and Jordan are concerned about recent activities in Jerusalem. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, for Jews, Muslims, and Christians around the world. And we believe it is possible to realize the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for Jerusalem and safeguard its status as a symbol of the three great religions for all people.
Excerpt on Jerusalem from Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan:
And once again, I would like to remind of the important issues that we tackle — final status issues that include refugees and Jerusalem. Everything should be subject to negotiations.
And when it comes to Jerusalem, as the Secretary very correctly pointed out, Jerusalem is potentially a flashpoint, and it is so sensitive to all the followers of the three great monotheistic religions.
But most importantly, actions on the ground in Jerusalem can turn into provocative and antagonizing actions to the followers of the three great religions. So it's very important to try and avoid unilateral action in Jerusalem.
Everybody is in agreement that Jerusalem is to be discussed in final status negotiations as — I’m talking about East Jerusalem, of course — as occupied Arab territory.
Monday, Jan. 11
U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon said Monday that ''very serious consultations'' are taking place to try to get the Middle East peace process back on track.
''I have been urging all the leaders, particularly the leaders of Israel and Palestine, to come back to the negotiating table,'' he told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
U.S. envoy George Mitchell asked French and European Union support for a renewed push for peace in the Middle East.
Mitchell, on a visit to Paris, said that ''no one country, no one person, can accomplish this objective alone.''
After meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Mitchell urged ''a combined and concerted effort and partnership'' with U.S. allies, including France, toward resuming peace negotiations that broke down in December 2008.
Tuesday, Jan. 12
Aaron Klein with WorldNetDaily wrote:
With regard to Jerusalem, talks between the U.S. and Israel are in the infancy stages.
WND has learned Dennis Ross, an Obama foreign policy adviser who served as Mideast envoy to the Clinton Administration, is actively engaged in brokering a deal regarding Jerusalem.
Israeli diplomatic sources said Ross wants to use the formula established under the Clinton Administration that would see Jewish sections of Jerusalem becoming Israeli while areas largely inhabited by Arabs would become Palestinian. About 100,000 Arabs live illegally on Jewish-owned land in Jerusalem.
European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton held talks with Quartet envoy Tony Blair and U.S. representative George Mitchell.
Tuesday, Jan. 12
The headquarters for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti collapsed in the massive earthquake. The U.N. says the building is unrecognizable.
Wednesday, Jan. 13
George Mitchell was in Brussels for meetings with his counterparts from the so-called Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — along with European diplomats, before a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories planned for later this month.
Secretary of State Clinton was scheduled to travel to the Pacific on Jan. 11-19, 2010. However, due to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and its severe aftermath, Clinton announced from Hawaii that she would return immediately to Washington, D.C.
Here is what she said in a press conference in Hawaii prior to her return:
"Well, you know, John, it is biblical, the tragedy that continues to daunt Haiti and the Haitian people. It is so tragic. They had the four hurricanes last year. We had a good plan. We were just feeling positive about how we could implement that plan. It was U.S., U.N., international. We had donors lined up. We had private businesses beginning to make investments. There was so much hope about Haiti's future, hope that had not been present for years. And along comes Mother Nature and just flattens it.
"So I remain committed, as I know the President, our Administration, the American people do. And we’re going to give the people of Haiti the support they need as they go through yet another catastrophe."
Bill Clinton, U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti (AP), on earthquake:
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti and husband to Secretary of State Clinton, said that he accepted the position of U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti last May to help put into place a long-term plan to boost development to create jobs, increase education levels and improve health care, among other things.
"We made a good beginning; and before the earthquake I believed that Haiti was closer than ever to securing a bright future," he said.
"Despite this tragedy, I still believe that Haiti can succeed."
Clinton said his office and the rest of the U.N. system are monitoring the situation and are committed to doing whatever they can to assist the people of Haiti in relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti," said Clinton. "My U.N. office and the rest of the U.N. system are monitoring the situation, and we are committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."
17 UN personnel killed, 150 missing, in Haiti
The U.N. said Wednesday that 17 U.N. personnel were killed when an earthquake decimated their headquarters in Haiti's capital, and 150 workers were still unaccounted for, including the mission chief. U.N. officials said 56 others were injured. Seven who were seriously hurt were evacuated from the country.
Thursday, Jan. 17
President Obama on Haiti: "The first waves of our rescue and relief workers are on the ground and at work"
Obama gave another update on relief efforts in Haiti, promising the people of Haiti that "you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten." Again, while the U.S. government is doing all it can, you can also help immediately by donating to the international fund of the Red Cross to assist the relief effort.
The Associated Press wrote, "Tested with the first large-scale humanitarian disaster of his presidency, Obama ordered a relief effort of historic proportions despite the deep strains it was sure to put on both the U.S. budget and on military forces who are already fighting two wars. He pledged an initial $100 million — with the likelihood of more later."
Thursday, Jan. 17
A senior U.S. envoy pushed for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, during a visit to the Middle East on Thursday.
U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones met separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Jones told President Abbas in Ramallah that the United States is determined to find a way to restart negotiations between both sides.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's office said the Israeli leader and Jones met in Jerusalem and discussed advancing the peace process with the Palestinians and regional security threats.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pushed for the resumption of peace talks without pre-conditions. But the Palestinians are demanding that Israel halt all settlement activity before negotiations can restart.