After former Senator Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the US presidency, Israeli journalists and politicians were divided on the question if her candidacy was good news for Israel.
On the left, Clinton’s candidacy draw positive responses. MP Merav Michaeli (Labor) wrote in an op-ed published by the leftist paper Ha’aretz: “When Hillary Clinton decided to run (for president), she took yet another step toward.”
The responses of right-wing commentators were less positive, and some of them even expressed fear that Clinton would be even worse for Israel than President Obama.
The ultra-Orthodox news portal Behadrey Haredim noted that Clinton’s campaign management had already leaked that she intends to embrace, rather than distance herself from, Obama and his policies.
Some pointed to the fact that Clinton knows Israel well and that she realizes that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has to be improved. In a conversation with U.S. Jewish community leaders a couple of weeks ago, she said that “we need to bring back the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel in order to work together to handle shared interests and concerns.” She stressed that attitudes toward Israel must not become a political issue, and claimed that the two friends will work together to restore the relationship.
Others claimed Clinton did nothing when, during her term as Secretary of State in the first Obama administration, relations between the U.S. and Israel began to deteriorate. They also point to Clinton’s obsession with the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (West-Bank), which she sees as the greatest obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
The New York Times wrote that in 2009, following the White House’s demand for Israel to end new settlements, Clinton criticized the Israeli constructions “with a fervor that surprised Mr. Obama’s advisers.”
Clinton shares Obama’s policy toward Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria (West-Bank).
In 2010, she even said at the AIPAC conference that Israeli settlements complicated U.S. goals on Iran. The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time that Clinton had said “ that Israeli settlement activity in occupied Arab lands – East Jerusalem and the West Bank – undermines trust between the two allies and makes the US role in the peace process more difficult.” She then took her argument a step further, saying Israel’s settlement activity complicates other US goals in the region that are also Israel’s goals –specifically, ensuring that Iran does not become a nuclear power.
In March 2010, Clinton called Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and rebuked him about the state of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. During the call, she demanded “Israel take immediate steps to show it is interested in renewing efforts to achieve a Middle East peace agreement.” Clinton made the call to Netanyahu after Israel announced building plans for 1600 houses in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during the visit of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden.
In 2012, during the Saban Forum opening gala dinner, Clinton blamed Israel for the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.
Here’s what she said:
So, look, I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.
During the same speech, she claimed that the Two-State solution was the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish state:
“A strong Israeli military is always essential, but no defense is perfect. And over the long run, nothing would do more to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state than a comprehensive peace,” Clinton said
Last year, she revealed that her obsession with Israel’s settlement activity had led her to yell at the Israeli Prime Minister on several occasions. During an interview with CNN, she said this:
I have to say, I’ve known Bibi a long time. And I have a very good relationship with him, in part because we can yell at each other and we do. And I was often the designated yeller. Something would happen, a new settlement announcement would come and I would call him up, ,What are you doing, you’ve got to stop this.’
During another interview with CNN in 2014, in which she again criticized Israel’s settlement activity, Clinton said it is her “biggest complaint with the Israeli government.”
I am a strong supporter of Israel, a strong supporter of their right to defend themselves. But the continuing settlements which have been denounced by successive American administrations on both sides of the aisle are clearly a terrible signal to send, if at the same time you claim you’re looking for a two-state solution.
After the re-election of Netanyahu in the Israeli election on March 17 this year, Clinton reiterated her position on the Two-State solution as the only way to achieve peace in Israel. After she had said that relations between the US and Israel ought to return to “constructive footing,” she stressed the importance of getting back to “basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution.”
The position of the outgoing and incoming Israeli government is that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not possible at this point and that Israeli settlements are not an obstacle to peace. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that the Arab refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Palestinian incitement and maximal demands are the real obstacles to peace. He and other Israeli officials often explain that Israeli settlements are built on less than five percent of the landmass in the West Bank–and that the issue of the settlements was never a stumbling block in negotiations about peace with the Palestinians.
So do Israelis want to see another Clinton in the White House?
It is fair to assume that the answer is no. After eight years of bad relations with a Democratic U.S. President who is widely regarded as not trustworthy when it comes to the security and future of the Jewish State, Israelis long for a U.S. President who they can trust and who understands the basic principles underlying the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In fact, Israelis lost trust in Clinton already in 1999 when Clinton visited Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha. Clinton remained silent when the Palestinian first lady claimed that Israel was using poison gas to pollute the West Bank’s water and land–and, rather than protest that statement, kissed her.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth