November 18th, 2012
07:57 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain suggests Bill Clinton as Middle East peace negotiator

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain suggested Sunday that former President Bill Clinton once again try his hand at forging peace between the Israelis and Palestinians as another day of violence lit up the sky on the border between Israel and Gaza.

Israeli Defense Forces aircraft struck targets in Gaza on Sunday, including some where they said the militant group Hamas was launching rockets. Rockets from Hamas streamed toward cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv.

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McCain spoke in an interview on CBS, saying the U.S. should be "as heavily involved as they possibly can" in the region.

"I would find someone even as high-ranking, frankly, as former President Bill Clinton to go and be the negotiator," McCain said.

"I think that it's very important that we recognize that the United States of America has got to push as hard as we can to resolve this Israeli-Palestinian issue. And so many events hinge on making that process go forward."

Clinton has hands-on experience with peace negotiation in the region, having convened leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority at Camp David when he was president. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been in touch with her counterparts in the area since the violence escalated earlier in the week.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday afternoon he would head to the region and "appeal personally for ending the violence." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the day, and an Israeli representative was in Egypt earlier in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

The violence puts millions of people at risk in Israel and Gaza, and should Israeli forces staging along the border launch a ground invasion of Gaza, the violence in the densely populated Gaza Strip would increase.

President Barack Obama said Sunday that the U.S. is "fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians."

On CNN's "State of the Union," Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, said the situation would be akin to his state launching an attack on Washington.

"Hopefully you could take advantage of this negative situation and start talking about peace. History shows that is unlikely at this point," Ruppersberger said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R- Missouri, said he suspected Iran was involved and said he found Obama's words on the violence "helpful."

"His statements yesterday I thought they were helpful," Blunt said. "They are in line with what the congressman and I have said here today, and I hope we're aggressively pursuing that idea that Israel has a right to protect itself. But people all over the world have a real interest in trying to stop this violence from being initiated by Hamas and Gaza."

Filed under: John McCain • President Clinton
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Jumapili

    Peace! can't be achieved as long as those hamas stop their cowardly acts of terrorism

    November 19, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  2. MeltdownMitt

    Poor OLD John. Down to only 45 days of relevance in the Senate and then he slips away into the land of the forgotten, once great men who played the game too long. He should have left on a high note, but has reduced himself to just appearing hateful and senile. I'm sure he would have voted to investigate why Colin Powell misled the American people (and the world) on WMD in Iraq. Poor old john...

    November 19, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  3. ART

    I think its about time we ready the straight jacket for this one

    November 19, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. Morshe Eli

    Hamas intentionally provoked this current war to test their Iranian made, long range rockets fired to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time. This is a plan pushed by Iran, now Israel watch out!!!, the next nasty war Israel vs Hamas would be when Hamas testing Iranian nuclear bombs plus firing thousands of long range rockets.

    November 19, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  5. ST

    Does McCain know anything about peace??? For his information, charity begins at home. They are there fighting in the Mid-East using fire arms and McCain is fighting here everyday at home using his words.

    November 19, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. v_mag

    If it is a Republican Party strategy to put McCain out front lately, it is another example of how delusional they are. This old Elmer Fudd is so transparent you can see Grover Norquist right through him. John, do you think we don't get it that you're politicizing the deaths in Benghazi to try and regain the national security issue that you lost to the President? Do you really have that little respect for the intelligence of Americans?

    Now you jump in to the middle east mess again with your suggestions for Obama, like he needs a doddering old fool to tell him what to do. After picking Palin as a running mate, you have forever lost your credibility.

    November 19, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    I see McCain is still in the habit of making policy remarks without thinking through the strategy. The flaw with sending Bill Clinton into the middle of a shooting match is pretty obvious.

    November 19, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Wow. If Jimmy Carter were dead he would be spinning in his grave at the thought of any former President other than himself being suggested as a Middle East peace negotiator.

    November 19, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  9. Common sense grandma

    I respect John McCain's brave endurance and sacrifice when he was a prisoner of war. However, I have always been puzzled at how that qualifies him as a leading military expert on all matters foreign and national nor how it qualified him to be above reproach. Based on that criteria, ALL POWs are equally qualified. Quite honestly, I am just tired of his petulant rants.

    November 19, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    John McCain's problem is simple. He's irrelevant and powerless in the Senate, and so he makes noise.

    He's become irrelevant in the Senate because of how long he's been there. He's been on almost every committee, and can no longer be the senior party member on any of them because of rules limiting the length of term an individual can chair or lead a committee. McCain has become nothing more than a junior member of the caucus. McCain needs a new committee to be formed in order for him to hold any position of leadership in the Senate, and Harry Reid will not do it. He saw this moment coming, which is why he ran for POTUS. But, he lost in 2008, and now he's irrelevant in 2013.

    November 19, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. jcvance

    Now this is the Sen McCain I like. May not be feasible but an interesting suggestion.

    November 19, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. Nick

    Israel has had a chokehold on Gaza's economy since Hamas took over in 2007. Of course, any country who can't feed its own young because its rival neighbor has complete control of all trade routes is going to fire rockets or do what it can to change this. Yeah, some Palestinian groups that are just as bad or worse, but I hope Americans stop this Israel-worship that is rooted in misunderstood prophecies, powerful lobbies, and God knows what else.

    November 19, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. Nick

    I guess McCain would just love to see Clinton taken hostage by Hamas.

    November 19, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Dennis Freeman

    Give it a rest Senator

    November 19, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. rumple

    I think this is a great idea. Bill ought to spent about a week in Gaza in high visibility, so people know where he is and what he represents, at the guest of the Palestinians, ride around with their flag on his fender.

    November 19, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  16. Wise1Speak


    McCain knows how stupid and crazy he sound last week when he boldly stated that he would block Susan Rice's nomination to U.S. Secretary of State because she (in his mind) caused the Benghazi debacle. McCain made the suggestion without going to the meetings and getting the facts.

    Now suddenly he is extending an olive branch to President Obama by giving a nod to have President Clinton arbitrate a peace settlement between Hamas and Israel.

    There are two things wrong with McCain's statement:
    (1.) – Bill Clinton is capable but Hillary is current Secretary of State and is also capable of hosting peace talks. It is very disrespectful to suggest Hillary bring her husband in to the picture to do her job.

    (2.) – Also, McCain is quickly growing increasingly irrelevant on international politics and he knows that he screwed up when he jumped the gun and suggested "Watergate style hearings" regarding Susan Rice's comments. McCain is just trying to use the Bill Clinton suggestion in hopes of moving the story off of his "Susan Rice/Benghazi" debacle.

    November 19, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. simp

    Mccain needs to give it a rest he is still angry about losing to President Obama in 2008, and now the reelection of the President has him livid, looking for something to blame anybody for. what a sack of nothing he is.

    November 19, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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