Israel Election Result Creates Dilemma for Hillary Clinton and Potential Candidacy

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Hillary Clinton speaks at a news conference at the UN in New York on March 10, 2015. The New York Times reports that the March 2015 Israeli-election result has created a dilemma for Clinton as she mulls a run for president.Credit: Reuters

The Israeli elections, which positioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government for a fourth term in office, have created a dilemma for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she mulls whether to run for president in 2016.

According to The New York Times, Clinton is likely under pressure from the Democratic Party to criticize a government that is led by Netanyahu and is openly hostile to President Barack Obama. But in doing so, she risks alienating conservative Jewish Democrats, who might not help fund and otherwise back her presidential run.

The Times points out that in 2010 Clinton criticized Netanyahu after the Israeli government announced new settlements during a visit to the country by Vice President Joe Biden.

Four years later, Clinton staunchly defended Israel during the summer war with Hamas in Gaza. Since then she has steered clear of public displays of empathy for the Palestinians, according to the report.

Clinton has so far declined to comment on the Israeli election.

Most U.S. Jewish voters and donors are liberal. But criticism of Israel could still cost Democrats the support of a small subset of wealthy and influential Democratic Jews for whom Israel is a priority and also back the government in Jerusalem.

In the aftermath of Netanyahu's Congress address and other divisive events prior to the election, Democrats are likely to be more outspoken against the Israeli prime minister. The Times cites Jewish elected officials in the Democratic Party as expressing concern that candidates who support Israel would be challenged by candidates who are critical of Netanyahu's government. A scenario that sees an erosion of support for Israel within the party could sway some Jewish voters to vote Republican.