Clinton's Peace Process Push

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is putting all of her diplomatic skills to use trying to break the stalemate over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Yesterday the secretary met with Isaac Molho, Israel’s chief negotiator. Molho sat down with Clinton for an hour and also spoke with special envoy George Mitchell for three hours. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley was vague about what went on during the meeting. He said Clinton was “getting a perspective on the Israeli side of how to move forward” and that the two also touched on “substantive issues.”

Today, Clinton will meet with the other side. The Palestinians’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Twice this week the secretary of state spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to try to get the Palestinians to Washington. She is also scheduled to meet with Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, today. The two-day push will be wrapped up this evening with Clinton’s speech at the Saban Center that is expected to touch on the administration’s ideas on how to move forward.

Of course the peace process isn’t the only issue on Clinton’s plate. The secretary of state will head to Quebec on Monday for talks with the foreign ministers of Canada and Mexico. The meeting, according to Crowley, will be key to identifying the countries’ “trilateral priorities,” including in the areas of economics, regional security and climate change.

Meanwhile, Joseph Yun, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visited recently released democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar today. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in mid-November after having been imprisoned by the country’s military rulers. The U.S. diplomat reportedly had a “very productive” meeting with Suu Kyi, and the two discussed economic sanctions imposed on the country among other issues.

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a news conference with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the Justice Department is looking into cyberattacks allegedly launched by supporters of WikiLeaks against companies like Mastercard. The company blocked the whistleblower organization from using its network after WikiLeaks released cables at the end of November.

And Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters today that he is “not surprised” about the Senate’s vote on Thursday to block a bill that would have repealed the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy that prevents gay troops from serving openly in the military. The repeal was included as part of a larger defense spending bill.