Bill Clinton 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "could and should" clinch a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would end the conflict in the Middle East, former US president Bill Clinton told Indian television on Wednesday.
The former president warned that Israel is "isolating itself from world opinion" by failing to clinch a peace deal with the Palestinians and launching military operations in the Gaza Strip.
"I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu could and should make a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians," Clinton told the NDTV network.
The former president said that the absence of peace would contribute to Israel's long-term international isolation.
When asked about the current crisis in the South, Clinton chided Hamas for "forcing" Israel to kill Palestinian civilians by "raining rockets down" on the South.
"Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel," the former president said. "They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them."
"Over the long run it is not good for Israel to keep isolating itself from world opinion because of the absence of a viable peace process," Clinton said. "In the short to medium term, Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage on Israel by forcing it to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas."
The former president said that Israel and the Palestinians should be focused on "a peace process that gets Israel security recognition and peace, and that gets the Palestinians their state."
Clinton said that he believed "60 percent of Israelis" would back Netanyahu if he made an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that would pave the way for a Palestinian state.
Clinton also praised the Iron Dome system, calling it "a miracle that [Hamas] has fired 1,000 rockets and more people weren't killed."
The former president said that while Israel "was partly responsible" for the breakdown in peace talks, the Palestinians also bear some of the blame for refusing to talk to Israel during the nine-month settlement freeze that was declared during US President Barack Obama's first term in office.