Hillary Clinton: Israeli Settlements 'Illegitimate'
Secretary of State calls working toward Mideast peace her "highest priority."
Feb. 18, 2011— -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli settlements "illegitimate" shortly before the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal.
In an exclusive interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour taped on Friday afternoon, Clinton said, "I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians."
The U.N. resolution failed as a result of the United States' veto. The Security Council vote was 14 countries in favor of the resolution and one country, the United States, opposed. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution risked harming the peace process.
"It is the Israelis' and Palestinians' conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them," Rice said after the vote at U.N. headquarters in New York City. "Therefore, every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: Will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement?
"Unfortunately," she added, "this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse."
In December 2010, Clinton took a similarly harsh line against continued Israeli settlements.
"We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."
The full Amanpour interview with Clinton -- focusing on the uprisings in the Arab world, how the U.S. is redefining its strategic interests there and what she thinks this new Arab People Power means for the U.S. -- will air Sunday on "This Week."
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