Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told America’s largest pro-Israel lobby on Monday she would “vigorously oppose” any attempts by outside parties to “impose” a peaceful solution between Israel and Palestinians if elected president.
Speaking at AIPAC’s annual policy conference, Clinton condemned Palestinian acts of violence as “terrorism” and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as “anti-Semitic,” while making almost no mention of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The former US Secretary of State said she would only support peace brought about through “direct negotiations,” and would “vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the UN Security Council.”
Reiterating her “unwavering, unshakable commitment” to Israel, she said the US-Israeli alliance was based on both nations having a shared “story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination.”
“We marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance,” she said. “We see the vigorous, even raucous debate in Israeli politics, and feel right at home.”
Much of her efforts were aimed at presenting herself as a candidate far more amenable to Israel than President Barack Obama, whose relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been notoriously bad during his time in office.
She said that inviting Netanyahu to the White House would be “one of the first things I’ll do in office” — recalling a recent snub by Netanyahu when he declined such an invitation from Obama during a visit to the US just two weeks ago.
Clinton said it was vital the US and Israel stood together at a time when Israelis faced “brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home,” citing in particular a Palestinian attack in Jaffa this month that left an American tourist dead and nine others wounded, mostly Israelis.
She accused the Palestinian leadership of “inciting violence” and “celebrating terrorists as martyrs.”
But with the exception of one passing mention of Israel’s settlements, the presidential candidate made no mention of the key Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory the Obama administration has repeatedly condemned in recent months.
Taking US-Israel Alliance ‘to Next Level’
Since December, US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and US State Department spokesperson John Kirby have all issued grave condemnations of Israeli policies, saying they were undermining the two-state solution and prospects for peace.
However, Clinton called for the US and Israel to take their alliance “to the next level,” expressing hope that an agreement would be reached soon on the next 10 years’ worth of US military assistance to Israel, which already totals $3 billion a year.
“We will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us,” Clinton said.
She drew attention to what she said was the “alarming” BDS movement, suggesting it was “anti-Semitic” and part of efforts to “malign, isolate, and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
“I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now,” the presidential hopeful said. “We have to be united in fighting back against BDS.”
She added: “To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate.”
She said of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians: “We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable.”
Speaking of other threats faced by Israel, Clinton also sharply criticized Iran, saying that while the recent nuclear deal in part brokered by the Obama administration may have resulted in a safer world, “it’s not good enough to trust and verify. Our approach must be distrust and verify.”
She said: “Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.” She alleged that Iran was also funding “Palestinian terrorists.”
Clinton concluded by expressing hope that Israel and the US would stay true to the “shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship.”
She said both nations were “built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism. At our best, both Israel and America are seen as a light unto the nations because of those values.”