‘America and Israel are in it together,’ Clinton declares– and nary a word about settlements

Israel/Palestine
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At a time when Britain and France are considering withdrawing ambassadors from Israel over its latest settlement plans, Hillary Clinton addressed the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution Friday night and, declaring “America and Israel are in it together,” said nothing about settlements or occupation except when she three times praised Benjamin Netanyahu for a “settlement freeze.”

Clinton at Saban Center
Clinton at Saban Center, with Tamara Coffman Wittes

And in one pointed reference to a settlement, Gilo, Clinton bragged about visiting the colony.

Seated at dinner next to Haim Saban, an ardent supporter of Israel and the Democratic Party, Clinton seemed to be relaunching her political career.

Haim Saban with Hillary Clinton
Haim Saban with Hillary Clinton.
(Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya of Haaretz).

She called Saban “a friend, a colleague, a mentor, an inspiration to so many of us here tonight” and from start to finish Clinton took Israel’s side in the conflict. She accused Iran of fostering global terrorism “insinuating” itself into countries around the world, chastised Palestinians for not accepting Partition in 1947, and suggested that Palestinians should be content with a mini-state in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank and not Gaza.

Clinton gave shoutouts to John Kerry and Eric Schmidt of Google, and praised Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel promoter David Makovsky, and took questions from (according to the transcript) an unbalanced roster, Makovsky, Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan and settler activist Dani Dayan.

Here are some excerpts from her one-sided remarks:

America and Israel are in it together. This is a friendship that comes naturally to us. Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime. We share bedrock beliefs in freedom, equality, democracy, and the right to live without fear. What threatens Israel threatens America, and what strengthens Israel strengthens us…

Our shared obsession with innovation is also bringing us closer together. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt recently called Israel “the most important high tech center in the world, after the United States.” So it is no surprise that our diplomatic challenge is not only about a dialogue of strategic and political interests, including not just our soldiers and our politicians, but increasingly including our techies and our venture capitalists and our entrepreneurs.

She faults the Arab spring and praises rightwing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman:

And one of our problems is that when you think about who the leaders are [in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt], there aren’t political parties that create a Tzipi Livni or an Ehud Olmert or Avigdor Lieberman.

She blames the Iranians for a skein of terror and “hegemonic” ambitions:

we know very well the Iranian regime already exports terrorism, not only to Israel’s doorstep, but across the world. If we had a map I could put up there, I could show you what we track and plot on that map – the evidence of terrorism – mostly, thankfully, plots foiled or unsuccessful. Unfortunately, as in Bulgaria, some that succeeded. But those plots, those activities of Iran directly and through their agents, stretches from Mexico to Thailand. We see Iran bringing repression to Syria. We see Iran brutalizing their own people. So a nuclear Iran is not simply a threat to Israel. It is a threat to all nations and risks opening the floodgates on nuclear proliferation around the world…

their concerted efforts to undermine governments, to create havoc from Bahrain to Yemen and beyond, is equally troubling and dangerous. And so, we are constantly working with friends and allies to try to prevent that. And we see how Iran tries to insinuate itself into many societies with all kinds of promises, many of which are never fulfilled. I cannot tell you how many promises of infrastructure investment in Venezuela have been made without building an outhouse. It’s just a ridiculous record of promise with no follow-up. But they keep doing it. They are relentless in their desire to exercise influence and to build a very intimidating, even hegemonic, presence in the Gulf.

She blames Palestinians for the Gaza conflict:
Now, we have no illusions about those who launched the rockets. They had every intention of hiding behind civilians in Gaza and killing civilians in Israel. And they would have killed more of each if they could have.
 

Here are her only references to settlements, all praising Netanyahu and damning the Palestinians:

But there were moments of opportunity. And I will also say this. When Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze I flew to Jerusalem. …And when Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze, it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t cover East Jerusalem, but it covered much of the contested area in the West Bank… And I stood on a stage with him at 11 o’clock – Israelis always meet late at night, I don’t understand it – (laughter) – but 11 o’clock at night, midnight, and I said it was unprecedented for any Israeli prime minister to have done that. I got so criticized. I got criticized from the right, the left, the center, Israeli, Jewish, Arab, Christian, you name it. Everybody criticized me. But the fact was it was a 10-month settlement freeze. And he was good to his word. And we couldn’t get the Palestinians into the conversation until the tenth month.

The usual demographic chatter, supporting Israeli discrimination against Palestinians:

And without peace, the inexorable math of demographics will, one day, force Israelis to choose between preserving their democracy and remaining a Jewish homeland.

Not once but twice:

if you look at demography, you see the population shifts and the problems that that will cause for Israel.

She implies that the Palestinian state will be in the West Bank, not Gaza:

there is still an opportunity with the West Bank Palestinians to have a different status quo that is very much in Israel’s interest

The relentlessly chipper backing of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank,

the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance. At a time when religious extremists claim to offer rewards in the hereafter, Israel needs to help those committed to peace deliver for their people in the here and now. The leaders of the West Bank – President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad – deserve credit for their real achievements on the ground.

She lectures Egypt about its constitution but says nothing about Palestinian human rights in Israel or nonviolent protest in the West Bank:

Egypt will need a constitution that protects the rights of all, creates strong institutions, and reflects an inclusive process. Egypt will be strongest – and so will our partnership – if Egypt is democratic and united behind a common understanding of what democracy means. Democracy is not one election one time. Democracy is respecting minority rights

She speaks about Israeli settlements as if they are part of Israel:
[I] walked along the fence near Gilo.
 
She never uses the words occupy or occupation except in a favorable context:
It gives Israel a moral high ground that I want Israel to occupy. That’s what I want Israel to occupy, the moral high ground.
Here are her patronizing references to the great deals the Paletinians have been offered:
 
But after Yasser Arafat said no at Camp David – and I don’t care how many people try to revise that history, the fact is he said no at Camp David – some months later he calls my husband, when Bill is no longer President, and says, “You know that deal that you offered? I’ll take it now.”… The Palestinians could have had a state as old as I am if they had made the right decision in 1947. They could have had a state if they had worked with my husband and then-Prime Minister Barak at Camp David. They could have had a state if they’d worked with Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni.

Update: David Remnick agrees that Clinton is running for president. I wish I’d written this!

Hillary Clinton is running for President. And the Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck. These are two conclusions, for whatever they are worth, based on a three-day conference I attended this weekend at the annual Saban Forum, in Washington, D.C.

And Scott McConnell points out that Clinton made a veiled reference to settlements in this comment:

So particularly in light of today’s announcement, let me reiterate that this Administration – like previous administrations – has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.

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