Speaking at the 2014 Saban Forum in Washington Friday, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised US-Israel relations, saying the already good ties between the two countries should be strengthened.
“The relationship between the United States and Israel is solid, and will remain solid, and will be part of our foreign policy and our domestic concerns, our values, ideals, forever,” Clinton said in response to a question on the seemingly rocky relationship between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Calling the past six years “quite extraordinary”, she cited the US track record in support of her position. “The funding on Iron dome, the funding of other military needs and equipment, the continuing strategic consultation that we’ve been consistently engaged in, no one can argue with the commitment of this administration to Israel’s security.”
Clinton excused recent tensions between the two governments, saying, “We are two raucous democracies, and sometimes we get carried away.”
The annual Saban Forum, held by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in conjunction with the Brookings Institution, brings together US and Israeli government officials and policy makers each year. Media mogul Haim Saban, the man behind the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, is a long-time friend and supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. He backed her 2012 presidential candidacy bid, and has said seeing her in the White House in 2016 is a “big dream” of his. Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for the Democratic party leadership going into the 2016 elections, but has yet to do so formally.
US-Israeli relations were not Clinton’s only focus on Friday. On the issue of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, she expressed, “There is a necessary imperative to continue to try to achieve a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.” Clinton favors a two-state solution.
“Now I’m well aware of everything going on and the increasing tensions in the region, in Israel, in the West Bank to say nothing of the continuing aggressive behavior from Hamas coming out of Gaza,” she said. “But the absence of negotiations leaves a vacuum that gets filled by problems, bad actors, threats, other kinds of behavior that are not good for Israel and not good for the Palestinians,” she continued.
On the threat of Iran, Clinton echoed a sentiment expressed by Netanyahu and others, that no deal is better than a bad deal.
“The international sanctions have had the effect that we’d hoped for on Iran. The extension of the talks will most likely be a period during which the sanctions will hold [until an agreement is reached],” she said. “A deal that verifiably closes all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon — the key there is ‘verifiably’ and ‘all’ including covert efforts — that is what is at the center of these negotiations.”
The nuclear threat is not the only danger in Iran, however, Clinton explained. “Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, Iran’s support for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and the havoc that that has wreaked, support for Hezbollah, the continuing pressure on providing arms to Hamas and so much else that it engages in in the region that causes great concern to Israel, our Arab partners in the gulf, that’s all part of the ongoing challenge that Iran poses,” she said.