After the State of Palestine's successful bid to attain non-member state observer status at the U.N., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with unusual candor on the topic of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
On Friday, speaking at the Saban Forum 2012 in Washington, D.C., Clinton critiqued Israel's continued occupation and near non-existent peace efforts.
Clinton said she wasn't naïve about the prospects for achieving a lasting peace. She explained that she thought "that even if you cannot reach complete agreement, it's in Israel's interest to try. It gives Israel a moral high ground that I want Israel to occupy. That's what I want Israel to occupy."The comment, one of many Clinton made which revealed honest critiques of Israeli policy, came in the wake of Israel's announcement that it would be building an additional 3,000 units in the occupied West Bank. The move by Israel, which came as retaliation for Palestine's bid for statehood at the U.N., was swiftly condemned by the Obama administration on Friday. And on Friday evening, Clinton seemed willing to offer expanded critiques and to use the word "occupy" with all its intended weight.
In short, after the U.S. was one of only nine nations to vote against Palestinian statehood at the U.N., Clinton pivoted and called upon Israel to pursue peace and to end its occupation of Palestine.
Clinton, who was also miffed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's disingenuous critiques of Palestinian efforts, warned Israel that it was standing on the precipice of a one-state solution being the only remaining path to coexistence:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Friday that without progress toward peace, Israel will be forced to choose between "preserving democracy and the Jewish identity of the state." It was a much different tone than that offered by Ambassador Susan Rice at the U.N on Thursday, when 138 countries voted for Palestinian statehood as the U.S. joined an unenviable list of those who voted against, a list which included Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia.
Speaking at the Saban Forum 2012 at the Willard InterContinental in Washington D.C., Clinton rejected Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's pessimism concerning the Palestinian Authority's capability of governing its territory and bring about a lasting peace.
"With very little money, and no natural resources, they have accomplished quite a bit, building a security force that works every single day with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). They have entrepreneurial successes. They are nationalistic - but largely secular. Israel should support them."
"Some Israelis claim [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas is not a partner for peace," Clinton continued, "Well, I think that should be tested."
Clinton, on her way out as Secretary of State, was likely echoing both personal feelings and pent-up frustrations which have long permeated the Obama administration concerning Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's hawkish administration.
Whether they are frustrations which will lead to policy shifts remains to be seen. However, they are frustrations leaking out in the wake of America's rousing defeat at the U.N., its increasing international isolation on the issue and Israeli obstinance.