US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Jerusalem Sunday evening for a
24-hour visit, landing in the country just as White House National Security
Adviser Tom Donilon was leaving. US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and his wife Julie Fisher greeted Clinton as she disembarked her flight at Ben Gurion airport.
Donilon’s visit, which was veiled in
secrecy, was only announced Sunday by the White House in a terse statement that
said Donilon visited Israel from July 14 to 15 for consultations with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and National Security
Adviser Ya’acov Amidror.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor
issued a statement saying only that “the national security adviser reaffirmed
the United States’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.
was the latest in a series of ongoing US consultations with Israeli officials on
a range of regional security issues.”
Donilon was last here during a
weekend in February when he held marathon, indepth talks with Israeli officials
on the Iranian issue.
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office refrained
Sunday from providing any details about the content of Donilon’s recent
The national security adviser arrived a day after US Deputy
Secretary of State William Burns led the American team in the biannual USIsraeli
strategic dialogue. This parade of high-level US officials – Burns, Donilon and
Clinton – comes two weeks before the scheduled visit to Israel by presumptive
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Clinton, making her first
visit to Israel since September 2010, arrived from Cairo, where she met Sunday
with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi a day after meeting newly elected
President Mohamed Mursi.
Israeli officials said her talks in Egypt will
be high on the agenda of Clinton’s talks here.
The secretary of state is
slated to meet on Monday in Jerusalem with, in the following order, Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman, President Shimon Peres, Barak, Palestinian Authority
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Netanyahu.
Clinton won’t be meeting PA
President Mahmoud Abbas, because she met him less than two weeks ago in
According to Israeli officials, Jerusalem is eager to hear
Clinton’s impressions of the situation in Cairo, the dynamics between Mursi and
Tantawi and where she thinks the Egyptian leadership is heading. Israel also
wants to hear what she thinks is the best way to move the Israeli-Egyptian relationship
Iran is also expected to play a dominant role in the talks, with
Israel keen on getting an update on the status of the talks between Iran and the
world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and
In a meeting with diplomatic officials last week, Netanyahu
spoke of the consequences of a nuclear Iran even if Israel was left entirely out
of the equation.
In that situation, he said, a nuclear Iran would mean
nuclear proliferation in the world’s least stable area, with Turkey, Egypt and
Saudi Arabia sure to pursue nuclear capability if Iran achieves
According to Netanyahu, Iran with nuclear weapons would also mean
that a number of Arab countries, which today are watching carefully where the
“regional winds are blowing,” would align themselves with
Currently, by contrast, Iran’s only ally in the Arab world is
In addition, Netanyahu said, Iran’s terrorist proxies in the
region – Hamas and Hezbollah – would be empowered and enjoy an Iranian nuclear
The official said the Israel-Palestinian diplomatic track would
also be discussed with Clinton, with Israel sure to tell the secretary of state
that it is working on a package of incentives to get the Palestinians back to
the negotiation table. Israel is also expected to tell Clinton that continued
Palestinian talks about unilateral steps at the UN or forming a government with
an unrepentant Hamas, would have a “negative ripple effect” on the diplomatic
process and “force Israel to respond.”
Syria is assumed to be the fourth
major issue on the agenda, with Israel expected to express its concerns about
the security of chemical weapons currently in the possession of the Assad
regime. Israel and the international community are watching the stockpile of
chemical weapons very carefully, with some concern that if there are signs that
these weapons, or other strategic weapons, are being transferred to third
parties such as Hezbollah, Israel might be forced to take preventive military