Is Clinton (Bill) poised to return to Mideast diplomacy?

Recent report claims former US president will return to politics in region in one capacity or another, may be involved in peace process.

October 28, 2010 18:41
2 minute read.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton kind of smiling 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)


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Sources in Jerusalem discounted as "political gossip" a recent report in the US blogosphere about former US President Bill Clinton returning to Middle East diplomacy in one capacity or another.

Laura Rozen, at Politico, quoted Steven Clemons from the left-leaning New America Foundation as being convinced that Clinton is the man who can help Obama bring peace to the Middle East.

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"Bill Clinton is the only guy I can think of who is trusted and liked by all sides," Clemons was quoted as saying.

That's true, one observer in Jerusalem quipped, if you discount the million Russian immigrants who Clinton said earlier this month were the obstacles to peace, and if you ignore all the stories over the years about how difficult a relationship Clinton had with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they worked together during Netanyahu's first term in office. Floating the idea now was seen by some in Jerusalem as possibly a pre-midterm election move, the rationale being to try and shore up traditionally massive Jewish support for the Democrats at next Tuesday's midterm elections – support the polls show is now dwindling – by suggesting a key role for Clinton, who has strong support in the American Jewish community.

The idea left others thinking that – if true – this would be a sign that the Obama Administration was "clutching for straws" at a time when the diplomatic process seems to have reached a dead-end.

Following the midterm elections next week, there is likely to be additional personnel shake-ups at the White House, including among those focusing on the Middle East, though no one has a firm indication yet on who will be involved, or how it will impact on policy.

Neither the Prime Minister's Office nor the Foreign Ministry would relate to the Clinton speculation.

One government source said Israel did not feel obliged to respond to all speculation in the press, and that the Americans will chose for various Middle East positions whomever they think is best suited for the job.

Clinton. Meanwhile, will be the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Middle East Institute, the oldest Washington think tank devoted to Middle East issues. His topic: "Rethinking a Middle East in transition."

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