In a new batch of released emails from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, a former US diplomat suggested to Clinton that she push the Palestinians to form Arab Spring-like protests against Israel to push the government to make fresh overtures towards a two-state solution.
Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to Israel, wrote to Clinton on December 18, 2011 that she should recommend sparking Palestinian demonstrations, led by female protesters, to force Israel to re-enter peace negotiations.
The protests, which also called on Israeli Jews to hold parallel demonstrations against the government, should be led by and attended by women only so as to reduce the chances of violence.
“On the Palestinian side the male culture is to use force. Palestinian men will not for long patiently demonstrate — they will be inclined over time and much too soon to be frustrated and use force. Their male culture comes close to requiring it,” Pickering wrote.
“If the Palestinians see men engaged they will jump in and the soldiers of the IDF will sooner or later use force. This comes from several former senior Israeli military officers I have spoken with. The soldiers are fearful, nervous, outnumbered, insecure and brought up on a severe distrust of Palestinian males whom almost all of them have never spoken to except at roadblocks.”
While not explaining how the US should trigger the protests, Pickering made clear that the US could never have been traced as the catalyst to the events. He recommended that the US hire non-governmental organizations and outside third parties to “help.”
Pickering added that Palestinian leaders were already on board with the idea and the mobilization of females could “counteract” fears of violence and turmoil while protecting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“They must develop growth and momentum, just like Tahrir Square, and attract more women to participate and thus gain world attention,” Pickering wrote. “Their leadership has shied away from this idea because they can’t control it; they too are afraid of being replaced by a Tahrir Square style action.”
Regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pickering explained that only “a game changer in the region” would force the Israeli leader to agreeing to a two-state solution.
“Netanyahu is not going to move for anything that the Palestinians can offer him which they can deliver. He cannot deliver anything the Palestinians can accept without our help. He is much more satisfied with the status quo than with the risks of change,” he wrote.
“What will change the situation is a major effort to use non-violent protests and demonstrations to put peace back in the center of people’s aspirations as well as their thoughts and use that to influence the political leadership. This is far from a sure thing, but far, in my humble view, from hopeless.”
Clinton, upon receiving the email, then asked an aide to print it out.
Pickering’s email was one of some 3,000 recently released pages of communication by Clinton during her tenure at the State Department. 66 of those emails were deemed classified but, according to the State Department, not labeled as classified at the time they were sent.
Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has come under fire after it was discovered that she used a private email server to send official State Department communications. Clinton maintains that she neither sent nor received classified information using her personal email account.