President Bill Clinton Speaks the Truth About the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Yesterday on this blog I wrote a post about my own personal views of what was taking place at the UN in terms of US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians and in particular, the ramifications of a US veto of formal recognition of a Palestinian state (or even slightly upgraded status).
Over at Haaretz this morning I was pleased to see that former President Clinton spoke out about Bibi Netanyahu’s total disinterest in the peace process. Interestingly, the US media seems to have largely ignored his statements, probably because they know he is speaking the truth. Here is an excerpt of the Haaretz article but I would encourage you to read the whole thing:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the inability to reach a peace deal that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, the former U.S. president was quoted by Foreign Policy magazine as claiming that Netanyahu lost interest in the peace process as soon as two basic Israelis demands seemed to come into reach: a viable Palestinian leadership and the possibility of normalizing ties with the Arab world.
“The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn’t seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu,” Clinton said, adding that Israel wanted “to believe they had a partner for peace in a Palestinian government, and there’s no question — and the Netanyahu government has said — that this is the finest Palestinian government they’ve ever had in the West Bank.”
Furthermore, the former U.S. president is quoted by Foreign Policy as saying that Israel was also on the verge of being recognized by Arab nations adding that the “king of Saudi Arabia started lining up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘if you work it out with the Palestinians … we will give you immediately not only recognition but a political, economic, and security partnership.”
“This is huge…. It’s a heck of a deal,” Clinton said, adding: “That’s what happened. Every American needs to know this. That’s how we got to where we are.”
“The real cynics believe that the Netanyahu’s government’s continued call for negotiations over borders and such means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank,” he added.
Clinton also said he felt the Palestinians would accept the deal rejected by former PA President Yasser Arafat in 2000 negotiations with then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, saying that Palestinian leaders “have explicitly said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before — my deal — that they would take it.”
“For reasons that even after all these years I still don’t know for sure, Arafat turned down the deal I put together that Barak accepted,” he was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying. “But they also had an Israeli government that was willing to give them East Jerusalem as the capital of the new state of Palestine.”
What is significant about this is that Bill Clinton has always been very supportive of Israel and he knows Benjamin Netanyahu well, having had to deal with him when he was POTUS. He knows that Bibi has staked his whole political career on preventing a two state solution so it must be frustrating for President Clinton to have to watch the Secretary of State have to deal with the very same issues he had to deal with. He is right to point out that Mahmoud Abbas is the most moderate Palestinian leader anyone could hope for and once Abbas leaves office, all bets are off and a huge opportunity will have been squandered.