WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a couple of digs at Donald Trump at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington without mentioning the GOP frontrunner by name.
Her criticisms sounded a lot like the language Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has used to go after Trump for being wishy-washy on support of the Jewish state and wanting to assume a position of neutrality between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“Let me be sort of a neutral guy. …. I don’t want to say whose fault is it. I don’t think it helps,” Trump told MSNBC, later saying at the CNN Houston debate that his negotiating skills could revive a peace process. “Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation of anywhere in the world, of any kind, OK? But, it doesn’t help if I start saying I’m very pro-Israel, very pro-Israel, more than anybody on this stage. But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors. Because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.”
Clinton referenced the evening speeches to come at AIPAC: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump and Cruz.
“Tonight, you’ll hear from candidates with very different visions of American leadership in the region and around the world. You’ll get a glimpse of a potential U.S. foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them,” she said.
“For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order. An America able to block efforts to isolate or attack Israel. The alternative is unthinkable.”
Clinton stressed the need for “steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because ‘everything’s negotiable.'”
“Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” she added.
“I have sat in Israeli hospital rooms holding the hands of men and women whose bodies and lives were torn apart by terrorist bombs. I’ve listened to doctors describe the shrapnel left in a leg, an arm or even a head. That’s why I feel so strongly that America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival. We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable.”
Clinton also seemed to take a couple of digs at her former boss, stressing that “one of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House” and striking a less optimistic tone on the Iran nuclear deal.
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies are attempting to establish a position on the Golan from which to threaten Israel, and they continue to fund Palestinian terrorists. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is amassing an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated rockets and artillery that well may be able to hit every city in Israel,” she said.
“Tonight, you will hear a lot of rhetoric from the other candidates about Iran, but there’s a big difference between talking about holding Tehran accountable and actually doing it. Our next president has to be able to hold together our global coalition and impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement.”
She added that “Iranian provocations, like the recent ballistic missile tests, are also unacceptable and should be answered firmly and quickly including with more sanctions.”
“Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, ‘Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.’ We know they could reach Israel or hit the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the Middle East. This is a serious danger and it demands a serious response,” Clinton continued.
Clinton drew a mixed reaction when she vowed to continue the Obama administration’s push for a two-state solution, but garnered cheers when she insisted that no UN solution be accepted.
“It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes,” she said.
“…All of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. Terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. That poisons the future. Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear — I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.”
By using a legendary Israeli leader, Clinton dropped a reference to how she would be the first woman president if elected.
“Some of us remember a woman, Golda Meir, leading Israel’s government decades ago and wonder what’s taking us so long here in America?” she said.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus slammed Clinton’s address as “an attempt to whitewash a record of undermining Israel’s interests when she was secretary of State.”
“As the chief architect of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, her support for policies like the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and her boasting of being called the Obama administration’s ‘designated yeller’ for Israel calls into question her commitment to our closest ally in the world’s most tumultuous region,” Priebus said. “One speech cannot mask her fervent criticism of Israeli policy which has eroded diplomatic relations and left our ally further isolated and under threat.”