Clinton: 'Israel may lose Arab support on Iran'

US secretary of state says Arab nations condition combating Iran on J'lem's commitment to Palestinian peace process.

Clinton whistles 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Clinton whistles 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Israel on Thursday that it risks losing Arab support for combating threats from Iran if it rejects peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Clinton said Arab nations had conditioned helping Israel counter Iran on Jerusalem's commitment to the peace process. "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand," Clinton told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. She added that Arab countries "believe that Israel's willingness to re-enter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran." Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to visit Washington in May and Clinton stressed she was not going to jump to any conclusions regarding Israel's stance until the upcoming talks with him. "The prime minister will be coming to Washington in May, and we think that it is important not to prejudge what their view is and how that can best be approached," she said. Concerning a funding request for the Palestinians, Clinton said the State Department would ensure that no US taxpayer money goes to Hamas. "No aid will flow to Hamas or any entity controlled by Hamas," she said. Clinton repeated that any new Palestinian Authority government that included Hamas must recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements. However, she indicated that the US would not necessarily cut funding to the Palestinians even if Hamas joins the unity government and fails to meet the three above conditions, noting that the US continued to provide funds to Lebanon, whose government includes Hizbullah. "We are doing that because we think, on balance, it is in the interest of the United States," she said. The US secretary of state went on to defend US President Barack Obama's effort to engage diplomatically with Iran, calling it a reasonable alternative to what she called a failed Bush administration policy. "We tried the policy of total isolation for eight years," she said in a rising voice, "and it did not deter Iran one bit. The nuclear program has continued unabated. They weren't supporting Hamas before. They are supporting Hamas now." AP contributed to this report