Jewish Right To Israel

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Hillary Clinton Admits Obama Administration Wronged Israel

Last Friday, Hillary Clinton made a memorable speech at the Saban Center Forum for Middle East Policy. Most notable among her remarks was that Hillary claimed Israel lacked generosity and empathy towards the Palestinian Arabs. I addressed Hillary's trashing of Israel here.

While Barry Rubin also addresses her one-sided remarks, he also notes that Hillary Clinton Admits Obama Administration Wronged Israel. In Driving in Neutral: Hillary Clinton Explains the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, Rubin examines another comment she made:
“Now, would it have been a perfectly acceptable outcome for every Israeli and every Palestinian? No. No compromise ever is. But there were moments of opportunity. And I will also say this. When Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze I flew to Jerusalem. We’d been working on this. George Mitchell had been taking the lead on it. And when Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze, it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t cover East Jerusalem, but it covered much of the contested area in the West Bank.”
Rubin writes about the revelation contained in her words:
There’s something important in this passage that no one has noticed. For the first time ever, Clinton publicly and explicitly acknowledged that the freeze did not cover East Jerusalem. Why, then, did Vice-President Joe Biden throw a temper tantrum when an Israeli zoning board cleared some future construction there? At the time, the U.S. government repeatedly implied that Israel violated the agreement, which it didn’t. Now Clinton admits that.
Let's not forget that it was not Biden alone who lectured Israel at the time. At the time, the Washington Post reported:Clinton rebukes Israel over East Jerusalem plans, cites damage to bilateral ties:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday about the state of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, demanding that Israel take immediate steps to show it is interested in renewing efforts to achieve a Middle East peace agreement.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation in unusually undiplomatic terms, signaling that the close allies are facing their deepest crisis in two decades after the embarrassment suffered by Vice President Biden this week when Israel announced during his visit that it plans to build 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem.

Clinton called Netanyahu "to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president's trip," Crowley said. Clinton, he said, emphasized that "this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests."
At the time, people were truly stunned by the extent that the Obama administration in general and Hillary Clinton in particular publicly laced into Israel and Netanyahu over the incident.

Now Hillary admits, however obliquely, that the Obama administration was wrong.

Rubin goes a step further in the continuation of Hillary's comments:
“And I stood on a stage with him at 11 o’clock – Israelis always meet late at night, I don’t understand it – (laughter) – but 11 o’clock at night, midnight, and I said it was unprecedented for any Israeli prime minister to have done that. I got so criticized. I got criticized from the right, the left, the center, Israeli, Jewish, Arab, Christian, you name it. Everybody criticized me. But the fact was it was a 10-month settlement freeze. And he was good to his word. And we couldn’t get the Palestinians into the conversation until the tenth month.”
Rubin comments:
I cannot remember anyone criticizing her for this statement. It was small enough reward to Netanyahu for a major domestic political risk and a concession which in the end brought no progress for peace and no gratitude from the White House. But what Clinton says now does reflect the Western view that if you bash Israel it has no cost and if you praise Israel it is going to hurt you. I wonder if this is also a hint that Obama wasn’t happy with her praise for Netanyahu.
Rubin also examines Hillary's negative comments about Israel in regard to generosity and empathy -- and in fact goes further is looking at the underlining implications of those and other negative remarks Clinton made in her speech -- read the whole thing.

It is enough to note that in her extemporaneous remarks to a pro-Israel crowd, Hillary Clinton did mention in passing that one of the darkest episodes in the problematic relationship between the Obama administration and Israel was in fact not in the wrong, and that the "negative signal" was actually one of the Obama administrations own making.

As we approach 4 more years of an Obama presidency, we will see if things will be any different.


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