Hillary Clinton: Israel Not to Blame for Peace Process Failures

Speaking ahead of New York's primary, the Democratic front-runner tackles issues on the the Jewish community's mind.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes part in a panel in New York, April 11, 2016.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Speaking ahead of the Democratic primary in New York, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton positioned herself firmly in the pro-Israel camp in an interview with the Jewish Week newspaper.

Discussing a wide array of hot-button issues before New York's sizeable Jewish community goes to the polls on April 19, the former secretary of state reiterated her support for Israel on fronts such as the Israeli-Palestinian talks, ties with the U.S. administration and Iran.

The portrayal of Israel as the party responsible for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was "not accurate or fair or useful," Clinton said, adding that she has "a long memory" of the Palestinian leadership stepping away from negotiation efforts, such as the ones at the Camp David summit in 2000.  “I regret very much that the Palestinians didn’t take advantage” of that opportunity, she said. “The Palestinians couldn’t act.”

Moving on to present-day efforts to advance negotiations, Clinton stressed that she opposes imposed resolutions or unilateral steps and that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are the way forward. "The United Nations is not the venue" for such efforts, she said, given its "terrible track record in addressing these issues."

Clinton sought to distance herself from President Barack Obama on the issue of the U.S. administration's relations with Israel, saying that for her, commitment to Israel's security is "not just policy, it's personal." She added, "I have worked hard in all my public positions to further the relationship and do all I could to enhance Israeli security."

"We need to take the relationship to the next level," she said, adding that she and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "get along well" and that she would invite him to the White House during her first month in office.

A supporter of the deal reached between world powers and Iran, Clinton noted that she had called for sanctions on the Islamic Republic following its recent ballistic missiles tests. She mentioned the need to "vigorously enforce the deal and "create unprecedented transparency." As president, she said, "I will use every tool for compliance" on the matter.

As for her competitors' views on Israel and the Middle East, Clinton noted that rival Bernie Sanders' comments on the topic "will have to be read and evaluated by readers." Relating to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Clinton said that that the president should be someone with "a steady hand, not someone who is neutral [on Israel] on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because ‘everything is negotiable.’ Real security is not negotiable.”