November 2nd, 2009
03:38 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton tries to put praise of Israel in context

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Clinton tries to put praise of Israel in context."]
MARRAKESH, Morocco (CNN) - Two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Palestinian leaders by praising Israel for what she called "unprecedented" steps to limit - but not fully halt - the construction of Jewish settlements, she clarified her remarks.

Reading Monday from a prepared statement, Clinton said, "They (the Israelis) will build no new settlements, expropriate no new land, allow no new construction or approvals. And let me just say, this offer falls far short of our position or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon it will be unprecedented restrictions on settlements and would have a significant effect upon restraining their growth."

For months, the Obama administration has insisted that Israel freeze all new settlement construction. In May, Clinton said President Barack Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions."

But on Saturday, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Clinton praised him for simply slowing settlement

"What the prime minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements, which he has just described - no new starts, for example - is unprecedented in the context of the prior two negotiations," she said.

Earlier that day, at a hastily scheduled meeting in Abu Dhabi, Clinton urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the
negotiating table with no preconditions over freezing settlements. Abbas refused.

Monday in Marrakesh, Clinton was lobbying Arab foreign ministers to support the resumption of the stalled peace talks. But the frustration over Clinton's comments was evident, with Amr Moussa, secretary general of Arab League, calling the Israeli position on settlements a "slap in the face" of the Palestinians.

That followed Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat's strongly worded statement issued Sunday.

"What the Israelis are offering is not unprecedented," he said. "What would be unprecedented is a comprehensive settlement freeze by Israel ... and a halt to Israeli policies in occupied East Jerusalem such as home demolitions, evictions and rapid settlement expansion."

He added, "If America cannot get Israel to implement a settlement freeze, what chance do Palestinians have of reaching agreement with Israel on permanent status issues?"

Clinton, in her statement Monday, said she wanted to "take a step back because I want to put this into the broader context. I will offer positive reinforcement to the parties when I believe they are taking steps that support the objective of reaching a two-state solution.

"I will also push them as I have in public and in private to do even more."

She said that in a report to Obama last month, she praised both Israel's "willingness to restrain settlement activity" and the Palestinian Authority's "security measures on the West Bank."

"The steps being taken under President Abbas and Prime Minister (Salsam) Fayed are also unprecedented and we have never seen such effective security," she said. "I have on many occasions ... praised the accomplishments that the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated in building, training, and reforming their security forces."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Israel • President Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Kevin in Ohio

    It sounds like Hilary is now apologizing for saying something positive about Israel. Characteristic of the Obama Way.

    What I still can never understand is why Jewish Americans still strongly support democrats....the very people who fail to support Israel.

    November 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. yougottobekidding

    Israel is a welfare country where millions of our tax dollars goes! What does the US gets in return? Israel cannot help the US without angering the Arab world, so why is there so much effort. An Ally is just a word, what good is it for Americans?

    I cannot understand why we Americans are so fascinated with Israel? Maybe when they stop killing women and children and bulldozing people's homes, then I would care.

    November 2, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. yougottobekidding

    The world need peace and no one is budging! Both parties have to share some compromise! Not trying to bully the other!

    November 2, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Andy

    You "Real Americans" despise Clinton and Obama more than you do the Muslims who vow to "Wipe Israel off the face of the earth".

    I'm not interested in making the muslims "happy" with us. I don't care what they think and I totally reject everything about their religion. Hell, they hate each other enough to blow up their own people day after day after day. Remember Sept 11, 2001? They tried to kill as many Americans as they could. If they could have blown NY city and DC totally off of the planet, they would STILL be celebrating!

    What kind of "Americans" are you people anyway? You all sound like the Iranian mullahs – it's the same words they use when they preach their "Death to America" sermons.

    If we have indeed come to the point where the President of the United States is despised and slandered so by our own people, then we are headed for civil war. I'll never quit supporting my President just because Limbaugh says to. I'd rather fight to the death first.

    Is that what you people want?

    November 2, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. Frank Leon

    Clinton accomplice 3 thing on her last trip to Abu Dubai and Jerusalem in her peace trip
    Get Abbas to Abu Dubai to insult him.
    Fill the empty hotels in Abu Dubai with Abbas entourage and also with her large entourage, that is all paid by Americans Tax payers money and then may be have her husband Bill cash in the commission as he sit as lobbyist to Abu Dubai.
    The third is to hail Israel with her unprecedented remark to assure the Israeli of Obama .
    The losers as always are and will be the poor Palestinians, how long will this go on !

    November 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Don't get it crooked, the United States will fiercely defend Israel, if needed, despite what anybody does or say. If Israel should strike first, we will always stand by them, we will not turn away.

    November 2, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Beth Sturgiss

    Goodness, Ms Clinton does not even know if she will be in her current position next week with that ever-changing boss of hers.

    November 2, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. diridi

    America needs to understand...Isreal is a biggest not worry about Isreal....ok....they do not come to america's rescue when needed....they are all selfish not even worry about ISREAL....let it go to dogs...fix America's economy, health care with public option, and straighten dollar value...GDP, immigration..etc., not listen to Republican thugs....they are the one looted the nation....Reagan messed this nation 35 percent...Bush idiot looted the nation remaining...ok...

    November 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Loup Garou 782

    Hillary, like her husband is not capable of putting anything in context. She doesn't even know the meaning of the word. Just as her husband does not know what the meaning of "is" is.

    November 2, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Dar

    And we thought Odumbo wasn't listening to the Musliums, his buddy's, yup I said it. This guy is TROUBLE and most people don't want to beleive it. Why would we tell on cloest allies to stop and let the musliums do what they want to do. Israel is under constant attack by these people and Odumbo thinks he can make it all better by helping the Palistines, they dont care and will now continue to build up arms again to strike Israel. Israel will wipe out what is left of these thugs if the Palistines start it back up. they love to fight, this is all they know, Killing, Killing, Killing. There is no talking to them. Odumbo lives in a dream world and sounds as if Clinton is starting to beleive him.

    November 2, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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