Hillary: Settlement Expansion ‘Not Helpful’

Israeli settlement expansion is “not helpful” to efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton told the New York Daily News editorial board on Saturday.

“Administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have all adopted the same position that settlement expansion is not helpful,” Clinton said, according to a recording published by the Daily News. “In the context of the continuing American interest in helping to bring the parties together to try to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict, I am in line with prior Republicans and Democrats.”

When reminded of the 45-minute tense conversation she reportedly had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over approving construction in E. Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit in 2010, Clinton chuckled and said, “That’s probably an exaggeration.”

“I have a long history and personal commitment to Israel’s security and its future that I have been outspoken about, stalwart and strong in every way,” she said. “I am a friend. And I wouldn’t be much of a friend if I did not share my opinions, which I have done, and believe me it has been reciprocated. But I think any disputes or disagreements should be handled in respectfully, and preferably, in a private way so we don’t give any aid and comfort to Israel’s adversaries or drive any wedges between us.”

“I will continue to do anything and everything I can for their security,” Clinton pledged.

On Thursday, appearing on Councilman David Greenfield weekly radio show on AM620 in New York, longtime policy advisor Jake Sullivan refused to refer to Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegitimate or illegal, although President Obama called all Israeli settlements “illegitimate” in his 2009 Cairo speech.

“What is Hillary’s view on settlements? Does she view them as illegal, or does she view them as a key stumbling block in the negotiations?” Greenfield, a Democrat representing the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, asked.

“What she said about settlements is that she believes that everybody has to do their part to avoid damaging actions, and that includes with respect to settlements,” Sullivan said. “Sec. Clinton comes out on the bipartisan tradition on this issue going back several presidents with respect to her view on the settlement issue.”

Sullivan also suggested that “Israel will not have a better friend in the White House than Hillary.”

“If she’s elected president, she will immediately start by reaffirming America’s strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security and the importance of the alliance,” he stressed. “And then she’s going to take concrete steps – one would be to invite the Israeli Prime Minister to visit in her first month in office. Another would be to send a senior delegation from the Pentagon and the joint chief’s to Israel for consultations so we can get on the same page on the array of common security threats that we face. And then, you know, I think, she said at AIPAC is very focused on ensuring that we never allow Israel’s enemies to think that they can drive a wedge between us; that when we have differences, as any friends would have, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.