'Netanyahu is key reason that peace deal not reached'

Bill Clinton quoted as saying during roundtable with bloggers that Sharon's peace efforts were scuttled when Likud party returned to power.

September 23, 2011 10:35
2 minute read.
Bill Clinton giving a speech in US

Bill Clinton giving a speech 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

Former US president Bill Clinton on Thursday lashed out at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and said that his rise to power represents a key reason there has been no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

During a roundtable with bloggers on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Clinton recounted how the Middle East peace process deteriorated since he pressed both parties to agree to a final settlement at Camp David in 2000, the report said.

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According to the magazine, the former US president said the reluctance of the Netanyahu government to accept the terms of the Camp David deal was a main reason for the lack of a comprehensive peace today.

“The two great tragedies in modern Middle Eastern politics, which make you wonder if God wants Middle East peace or not, were [former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination and [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon’s stroke,” Clinton said, Foreign Policy reported.

Clinton said that Sharon was working toward a consensus for a peace deal before he fell ill, but that effort was scuttled when the Likud party returned to power.

“The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn’t seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu. They 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,” Clinton said.

The former US president attacked Netanyahu’s government and said it had received all of the assurances previous Israeli governments said they desired, but now won’t accept those terms to make peace.

“Now that they have those things, they don’t seem so important to this current Israeli government, partly because it’s a different country,” Clinton was quoted as saying. “In the interim, you’ve had all these immigrants coming in from the former Soviet Union, and they have no history in Israel proper, so the traditional claims of the Palestinians have less weight with them.”

Likud faction chairman Ze’ev Elkin responded to Clinton’s comments on Friday, saying that “it’s unfortunate that former American president Bill Clinton did not learn from his own mistakes.”

“Clinton and [former prime minister] Ehud Barak’s bizarre vision of peace and a return to ’67 borders with a divided Jerusalem – including giving up parts of the Old City – dragged the State of Israel and the Palestinians into the second intifada and cost hundreds and thousands of victims on both sides,” Elkin explained.

He added: “As a Russian Jew and a religious settler at the same time, I am proud to be counted among those in Israeli society who are trying to prevent all of us for paying this price a second time.”

“The former president of the US, the stronghold of democracy in the modern world, should have learned by now to respect democratic decisions in other countries,” Elkin said.

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