Daily Israel Report

Clinton Defends Israel in India

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defends Israel, says it has made numerous attempts to bring about peace.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/8/2012, 7:05 AM

Clinton in India
Clinton in India
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought on Monday to defend Israel for its actions in the Middle East.

Clinton made the comments during a visit to Kolkata, India, according to report in the local PTI news agency.

“The United States believes that whatever differences one might have with the situation in the Middle East, Israel has been defending itself for 60 years and has made numerous overtures to bring about a peaceful resolution of the situation. It has thus far been unsuccessful in doing so,” Clinton said, according to the report.

“We continue to try and press for a resolution, particularly on Palestinian issues which the U.S. also cares deeply about,” she added, when asked why the U.S. has not taken action against Israel when it was in violation of 35 UN resolutions and has not signed the NPT.

Clinton said, “Well, I don't think we have been able to convince Delhi to sign the NPT as well.”

She said that proliferation of nuclear weapons was one of the biggest problems facing the world, noting that “it is not one country that we worry about, we worry about nuclear weapons proliferating in other countries.”

Clinton mentioned Iran, saying, “We believe that at this moment in time the principal threat is a nuclear armed Iran because Iran is a state sponsor of terror.”

She added, “There has been a recent incident in India with Iran supported state-terrorism. They work through proxy, through Hizbullah.”

She may have been referring to the February 13 bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi. The attack left Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the 42-year-old wife of a member of the diplomatic staff, with serious injuries, and also wounded her driver and two bystanders.

“A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to world peace,” the Secretary of State said, adding, “This is a regime with a history of aggressive behavior.”

Clinton’s defending Israel may be an attempt to gain favor with Jewish voters in the elections this November. President Barack Obama has come under fire for his policy on Israel. In his foreign policy speech last May, Obama called for a return to the 1949 armistice lines (often erroneously called 1967 borders)  as a starting point for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

The speech drew criticism from Obama’s political opponents, with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accusing the President of having “thrown Israel under the bus.”

Rick Perry, who at the time later also sought the Republican nomination, described Obama’s Middle East policy as being “naive and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.”

Obama’s policy on Israel may have come at a price. Recent reports have indicated that Obama has lost 16 percent of his support among U.S. Jews and may lose the elections in key states like Florida, come November.

The reports were based on a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed that 62 percent of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote for Obama. The key concern for Obama is that this is a sizeable downturn from 2008, when he got 78 percent of the Jewish vote.