Clinton aide to 'Post': Trump 'clueless' on Israel, foreign policy

Clinton favors a two-state solution, and the 2016 Democratic Party platform reinforced that position as it has in years past.

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July 26, 2016 19:46
3 minute read.
2016 Democratic National Convention, DNC

2016 Democratic National Convention, DNC. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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PHILADELPHIA – Donald Trump’s decision to revoke historic Republican Party support for a two-state solution will not have its intended effect, Hillary Clinton’s Jewish outreach director told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Aides to Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, say he is not automatically opposed to a one-state solution in which Israel is left to its own devices in handling its conflict with the Palestinians.

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Trump generally favors pulling America back from its role in navigating the conflict.

His position was reflected in the 2016 Republican platform adopted by the party last week in Cleveland.

“There has been a tremendous amount of reaction, both independent, as well as from the Republican side, who have actually really called out their position and said that it’s been a problem,” said Sarah Bard, a top staffer for Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Bard recently visited Israel, where she said that a fund-raiser for Clinton attracted many US-Israeli dual nationals who are registered as Republicans in the US.

“I don’t think that it has the impact they’re hoping it will – I think that it contravenes longstanding US foreign policy, it’s contravening the[previous] GOP platform, it contravenes Israeli policy,” Bard said. “And I think that signifies a larger cluelessness that he has about foreign policy, and a cluelessness he has about a lot of these important issues. So I don’t see that that is going to overturn support for her in this election.”

Clinton favors a two-state solution, and the Democratic Party platform this year for the first time included a reference to Palestinian rights to sovereignty and “dignity.”

“We [the Democrats] will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty and dignity,” the platform reads.

“While Jerusalem is a matter for final-status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

This is also the first time the party has formally condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.


Anti- BDS language was inserted into the platform despite protests from the party’s base, protests that are visible throughout Philadelphia, from city hall to the convention’s center of gravity at the Wells Fargo Center. Israel’s “occupation” and “settlement activity” in the West Bank – terms that were under contention throughout the platform negotiations, but did not make the final draft – are featured prominently on signs and banners, in theme with an overall criticism of Clinton’s seemingly hawkish foreign policy record.

Bard said the Clinton campaign is carrying out “research efforts” on Jewish communities in key swing states – Florida, chief among them, but also in Pennsylvania and Ohio – to gauge support. Polling of the US Jewish community is notoriously difficult not only because of its size, but because of the lack of tracing opportunities, as government agencies do not ask about religious affiliation in their surveys.

“The best places to see data are New York or Florida,” she said, noting that the Ohio and Pennsylvania communities are “a little easier” to survey than those across the rest of the country.

“I think we’re positioned for some good news, but our No. 1 goal is turnout,” she said.

Roughly 70 percent of American Jews reliably vote Democratic, although 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney managed to peel a 9-point margin off President Barack Obama’s Florida Jewish support in 2008.

Despite that significant loss, Obama still carried the critical state.

One encouraging datum for the Clinton campaign: Districts in Florida with the highest concentrations of Jewish voters chose Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during their primary fight this spring, by a definitive margin of nearly 3 to 1.

Clinton’s priority going forward is to make sure the Jewish community “doesn’t take for granted all of the mishegas and craziness you’re hearing from the other side,” Bard said, “and understands that [Trump] does have support.

“Not necessarily from within the Jewish community, she added, “but the community has to come out in as full force as it possibly can.”

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