Hillary’s State Dept. Prevented Bill Clinton From Meeting Netanyahu

Former President Bill Clinton was held back from meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the State Department during Hillary’s Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, Politico reported Tuesday.

The report is based on new emails obtained by Politico by FOIL request.

The meeting between Clinton and Netanyahu were supposed to take place in July of 2010 while the prime minister was in New York. Then-National Security Council Mideast staffer Dan Shapiro – who is now the U.S. Ambassador in Israel – leaked the information in an email to NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, based on a conversation with then Netanyahu adviser Ron Dermer. “Dermer told me that President Clinton asked to see the PM when he is in NYC,” Shapiro wrote in the email which was forwarded to the State Department.

“Why did WJC do this?” Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jake Sullivan asked Hillary’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, according to a transcript of the email published by Politico. “Is he doing meeting? Did you talk to [Hillary]?” Mills replied, apparently referring to Secretary Clinton.

Two days later, the State Department rejected another request by the former president, who had asked to participate at an event in Washington marking 10 years to the failed Camp David peace talks between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. “WJC is going to be in DC next week (July 14) and—in confidence—we are thinking about him participating in an even commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Camp David summit at the Center for Near East Policy,” Clinton’s aide Ami Desai wrote to Deputy Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Mara Rudman. “WJC would give a speech and then there would be a panel discussion. Would this cause any heartburn for the USG?”

Rudman forwarded the request to Sullivan, warning that it could potentially  lead to comparisons with the Obama administration’s Mideast policy. “Seems like this could end up in a discussion/Q&A that would lead to lots of sticky wicket type questions/comparisons,” Rudman wrote in the email. “I personally think it would be incredibly interesting, but imagine many others viewing it as cause for heartburn. Should I respond [with] the latter?”

Sullivan agreed that it would not be “a good idea” to allow Bill attending the event.

In a conversation with Politico, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he believes State officials were concerned about the disruption of the tense diplomatic efforts at the time to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiations table. “The short answer is that was in the middle of the [Israeli settlement] moratorium where we were hoping to get a face-to-face meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu and actually did a few weeks later,” Crowley said. “This is a case where, if you ask the question, you’re going to get great apprehension inside the organization…..Given the history, no one wanted to take the risk.”

The report comes on the heels of Bill Clinton’s expected trip to Israel where he will be addressing a rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday night.

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