'Relations with Israel Can't be Partisan Issue'

Former Secretary of State speaks with American Jewish leader, calls for relations with Israel to return to "constructive footing".

Ben Ariel ,

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Reuters

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday called for her country’s relations with Israel to return to “constructive footing” and not become a partisan issue.

The comments came in a telephone conversation between Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Clinton said, according to a statement from the Conference of Presidents, that she thinks “we need to all work together to return the special U.S-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns .and interests.”

She added that this includes “a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.” Clinton further noted that, “we must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue.”

Hoenlein, who initiated the conversation, said, according to the statement, “Secretary Clinton’s views are of special importance and timeliness given recent issues in the U.S.-Israel relationship. We note her call for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which, we believe, is the only possible route to a true peace.”

Indeed, tensions have between Jerusalem and Washington have been on the rise, most recently over comments made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before the elections, that he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu later backtracked on those comments, saying he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution”. The White House, however, was not convinced, dismissing the comments and bluntly warning Israel that its "occupation of Palestinian land" must end.

The relations were tense even before this, however, and revolved around Netanyahu’s speech to Congress which was organized by House Republicans, bypassing the White House.

Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said they would not meet with Netanyahu while he is in Washington, citing the proximity of his visit to the elections in Israel.

Sunday is not the first time that Clinton has called for the strengthening of ties with Israel. She said last December at the Saban Forum in Washington, “No one can argue with the commitment of this administration to Israel’s security.” She nevertheless added that the cooperation must be expanded, "regardless of the political back and forth between two raucous democracies."



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