Clinton calls for "direct" negotiations after Netanyahu meeting

Clinton told Netanyahu that a "strong and vibrant Israel is vital to the US."

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September 26, 2016 03:48
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

 
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Hillary Rodham Clinton renewed her call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after meeting on Sunday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is concerned that her former boss, US President Barack Obama, may take the issue to an international stage.

The Democratic presidential candidate “reaffirmed her commitment” to work toward an end to the decades-old conflict “negotiated directly by the parties,” her campaign said after the 50-minute bilateral meeting at the W Hotel off Union Square. Netanyahu hopes Clinton will lobby the president – publicly and privately – not to support efforts at the UN Security Council to impose parameters for peace on the two parties.

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Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump, both oppose such tactics. But Clinton has unique leverage over Obama, having served as his secretary of state and currently as his choice for successor.

The former secretary gave her backing to the recently signed $38 billion military aid package, and pledged to take the US-Israel relationship “to the next level.” Their conversation focused on the nuclear deal with Iran, which Netanyahu opposes and Clinton has endorsed, the campaign said.

The Democratic nominee attended the meeting after stopping by to visit her daughter, Chelsea, across town. She came into the city from Chappaqua, New York, after several days of intense preparations for her first debate with Trump on Monday night.

Clinton “committed to continue to work closely with Israel to enforce and implement the nuclear deal with Iran,” according to a readout of the meeting. “She also stressed her commitment to countering attempts to delegitimize Israel, including through the BDS movement.

And she discussed the bonds between the people of our two countries, how much we can learn from one another, and the importance of renewing those bonds for future generations.”



Israeli officials insisted the meeting remain closed to the press, according to Clinton’s campaign aides, in order to balance coverage of their meeting equitably with his earlier meeting with Trump.

That meeting was held in Trump Tower for roughly 90 minutes and, according to their teams, featured similar themes to his later conversation with Clinton.

The Israeli premier continued to remain scrupulously neutral after his meetings with the two candidates, not giving any indication of which he believes would be better for Israel or whom he would prefer sitting in the White House.

“After meeting with the two leading candidates for president of the United States – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – I am more convinced than ever that the steadfast friendship between Israel and the United States will continue after the elections,” he wrote on his Facebook page after he concluded his meeting with Clinton on Sunday.

In a similar vein, he told Army Radio that no matter who wins the elections, Israel will have a “friend in the White House,” and the next president will “continue the strong alliance” between the two countries.

To preserve the complete balance regarding his meetings with Trump and Clinton, his office released identical readouts of his two meetings, only changing the names of those involved, the length of each meeting (the Clinton meeting lasted “about an hour,” the Trump one “over an hour”), and where each meeting took place.

Each statement said Netanyahu presented Israel’s positions on regional issues connected to Israel’s security, and its efforts to achieve peace and security in our region.”

And both statements said Netanyahu thanked his interlocutor for their “friendship and support for Israel.”

While Netanyahu was keen on preserving complete neutrality, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat blasted Trump in a statement he released, saying the candidate’s comment about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “shows disregard for international law, longstanding US foreign policy regarding the status of Jerusalem, including the occupation and illegal annexation of occupied east Jerusalem, as well as hundreds of millions of Arabs, including Palestinian Christians and Muslims.”

Erekat said previous comments made by Trump’s campaign show a “total abandonment of the two-state solution, international law and UN resolutions, and underscores the urgency of President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s call at the General Assembly for the international community to bring an end to the occupation and salvage the two-state solution before it is too late.”

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