Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton told The Jewish Week in an interview on Tuesday that “it is unfair to put the onus on Israel” for the lack of progress on the Middle East peace front.
In a signal to Jewish voters she would be more openly supportive of Israel and tougher on Iran than President Barack Obama she also asserted that “Iran should be sanctioned” for the recent launch of ballistic missiles.
Clinton never criticized Obama, but when asked how does she respond to criticism that as president she would follow Obama’s ways treating Israel, she replied by saying her commitment to Israeli security is “not just policy, it’s personal.”
She added that since her first trip to Israel in 1981, “I have worked hard in all my public positions to further the relationship and do all I could to enhance Israeli security.
“We need to take the relationship to the next level,” she told The Jewish Week.
Often referring to her recent speech before AIPAC, she outlined her work as senator and secretary of state to create sanctions against Iran, support the security fence in Israel, broker a ceasefire to end rocket attacks on Gaza, champion the Iron Dome, weaken terror groups and “elevate the fight against anti-Semitism.”
Clinton claimed that she and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “get along well” and, that when allies like the U.S. and Israel have differences, which are inevitable, she would deal with them “quickly, respectfully and responsibly.”
She also added that she would invite Netanyahu for a White House visit during her first month in office and send a Pentagon delegation and the joint chiefs to Israel for early meetings.
On Iran and its ballistic missiles, Clinton noted that she has called for action in the form of sanctions in response.
Clinton said she “strongly” believes that the best way to prevent violations is to “vigorously enforce” the nuclear deal and “create unprecedented transparency.” She noted that “the rest of the world” wasn’t ready to impose new sanctions so soon after approving the deal but said she thinks she could lead an international move to renew sanctions.
Clinton also reiterated in the interview that she opposes unilateral steps or imposed resolutions in dealing with the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“The United Nations is not the venue” for such diplomacy, she told The Jewish Week, given its “terrible track record in addressing these issues.” Clinton added the only path to peace is negotiations “between the parties themselves.”
Asked whether it was fair for the administration and mainstream press to put the onus on Israel for the failure of the peace process, she replied, “No, it’s not accurate or fair or useful.”
“I remember when Yasser Arafat walked away” from the Camp David peace talks her husband, as president, tried to broker in 2000 between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
“It was one of the most comprehensive efforts,” she said, offering a version of the famous Abba Eban dictum that “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
The interview follows one Clinton gave Monday to the New York Daily News, in which she emphasized her pro-Israel credentials, looking to capitalize on recent missteps by rival Bernie Sanders, whose faux pas on the 2014 Gaza war has alienated some Jewish backers.
Making a veiled reference to rumors suggesting that the Obama administration was weighing possible use of a UN Security Council resolution to force Israel to accept the framework for a future final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Clinton suggested in that interview as well that she would not support such an approach.
“I will be a President who tries to always support Israel in the United Nations or any other international tribunal, as I have in the past.”
She also blasted the BDS movement and promised to strengthen Israel’s military.
“I will continue to ensure that Israel has a qualitative military edge; that I will continue, as I did as a senator, as I did as Secretary of State to do anything and everything for their security; that I will continue to speak out against the BDS movement, which I think is one-sided, discriminatory and unfair,” Clinton said.