Clinton: Mideast Peace Almost Impossible
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday poured cold water on those eager to see the Israeli-Palestinian peace process renewed in the near future.
Appearing at a campaign event in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Wednesday, Clinton said a lasting peace settlement is out of reach until Israel and the Palestinians “know what happens in Syria and whether Jordan will remain remain stable.”
Clinton told the college students and others, gathered at what dubbed as a community forum on the economy and the affordable healthcare, that peace in the region is even more difficult given the uncertainty of what Hezbollah’s next move is. She did not specifically refer to the Iran nuclear deal, but her argument reflected Israel’s argument that the international accord will bolster Iran’s regional power in the region, using at least 10 percent of its freed funds to sponsor Hezbollah’s terror activities on Israel’s border with Lebanon.
As Secretary of State in President Barack Obama’s first term, Clinton headed three face-to-face meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. But the relatively short period of direct negotiations ended as Israel refused to extend a unilateral 10-month settlement freeze and the rise of the Arab spring.
When a member of the audience asked the presidential hopeful how she plans on reconciling peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Clinton joked: “You guys ask the easiest questions. You know, we can be here until dark. Maybe we can serve breakfast. I dunno.”
But turning serious, Clinton paused for a moment and went on to describe the early days of the administration’s efforts with the appointment of George Mitchel as the U.S. envoy for the Middle East and how difficult peace is. “There is nothing easy about making peace. You don’t make peace with your friends,” she explained. “I know what the hard decisions are – for the Israelis it is security – how you secure it against a now volatile neighborhood. Security is a real issue and it is not something you can quickly resolve. For the Palestinians, it is autonomy – for them to make their own decisions and not be continually under the authority of the Israelis. And that is really where the two collide.”
“And now it is very difficult to figure out how either the Palestinians or the Israelis can put together a deal until they know what is going to happen in Syria, and until they know if Jordan will remain stable. It’s a really dangerous and complicated situation” she added.
But she said that no one should ever give up on pushing for a two-state solution, and should keep pushing for more support and relief for the Palestinians “so they can have more authority over the territories they are largely responsible for.”