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Right Turn
Posted at 08:40 AM ET, 03/24/2011

How to treat a good ally

As I reported yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered remarks alongside Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri. It is instructive to compare her statement about Israel and those about Morocco. She was effusive about the one Arab country that actually is making the reforms we should have been pressing others in the region to make:

I am delighted to welcome a friend and a colleague. Minister Fassi Fihri and I have had a chance to work and consult together over the last several years, and his visit here today represents another occasion to salute a very special bilateral relationship between Morocco and the United States. We have a long history of friendship and partnership on almost every level, from economics to educational exchanges, from trade to development, and security. . . . In our meeting today, I thanked the foreign minister for Morocco’s leadership at the summit in Paris last week and for Morocco’s important role in the Arab League’s decision to call for the protection of Libyan civilians. We also discussed the international community’s ongoing efforts to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya. . . .

Moving beyond Libya, this is a crucial moment in time for Morocco, the Maghreb, and the Middle East. I saw this vividly when I visited Egypt and Tunisia last week. And it was very inspiring to meet with the young people and the activists from civil society who are expressing such a strong desire to have a democracy of their own, to have some say in the decisions affecting their lives.

Morocco is well-positioned to lead in this area because it is on the road to achieving democratic change. His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s government has consistently allowed its citizens to express themselves openly and peacefully, and it has been frank and forthcoming about the challenges ahead.

The King has long demonstrated his commitment to reform. And earlier this month, in an important address that captured widespread attention, he promised comprehensive reforms that would guarantee free parliamentary elections, including the election of a prime minister, create an independent judiciary, and assure human rights for all of Morocco’s stakeholders, including the Amazigh community.

These ideas build on the King’s earlier reforms that included increased rights for women and children, and universal access to a free education. We recognize the critical importance of the aspirations that His Majesty has described and we urge a continuing and rapid implementation of his vision.

We also look forward with great optimism to further deepening our strong and strategic partnership in working with Morocco on so many issues. Let me close with an issue that I know is of great importance to Morocco and its neighbors, the Western Sahara. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained constant from administration to administration. We want to see a peaceful resolution. Starting with the Clinton Administration and continuing through the Bush Administration and up to the present in the Obama Administration, we have stated our belief that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible – a potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. The United States strongly supports the role of Ambassador Christopher Ross and the United Nations in resolving this issue.

Considering the state of other “friendly” and not-so-friendly Muslim countries in the region, Clinton was smart to shower Morocco with praise.

But then let’s review her comments on Israel. Surely she would show the same sensitivity to our closest ally in the region, Israel, right? I mean the Jewish state is under siege, so now’s not the time to equivocate. Er, actually it is for this administration:

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the bombing in Jerusalem today that took at least one life and injured innocent civilians. Terrorism and the targeting of civilians are never justified. And Israel, like all nations, of course, has to respond when this occurs. The United States is committed to Israel’s security and we strongly condemn this violence and extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected. We also strongly condemn recent rocket attacks from Gaza against innocent Israeli civilians and hold fully responsible the militants perpetrating these attacks. And I join President Obama in extending our sincere condolences to the friends and families of the Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza yesterday and appreciate that Israel has expressed regret. We stress the importance of calm and we urge all concerned to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties among both Israelis and Palestinians. Violence only erodes hope for a lasting and meaningful peace and the final realization of two states for two peoples.

Perhaps next time she will explain how it is that Gazans come to be killed. It might have something to do with the terrorists “who shoot rockets across the border and hide from retaliation beneath the burqas of their women.”

Really, isn’t it about time that this administration treated Israel as well as it does Morocco? You don’t see any “daylight” between the United States and Morocco; you see miles between the United States and Israel.

Last night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of his own:

This evening, I am leaving for Moscow in order to meet with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. I will discuss with them a series of bilateral and regional issues, as well as the search for a peace process with security and issues that are very important for Israel’s security. Before leaving, I consulted with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister Matan Vilnai, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, ISA Director Yuval Diskin and others. Since the Government was established, we have set a clear policy on security, the essence of which is a vigorous response to any attempt to harm Israeli citizens, and systematic and assertive preventive measures against terrorism. This policy has led to two years of quiet and security and I think that all Israelis have learned to recognize, welcome and enjoy the fruits of this quiet, to walk the streets without fear. The fact is that our southern communities have returned to normal life, as have residents of the north. This quiet is a major blessing. Recently, there have been elements that have tried to violate this quiet. They are trying to test our resolve and the fortitude of our people. They will learn that the Government, the IDF and the Israeli public have an iron will to defend the state and its citizens. We will act vigorously, responsibly and prudently in order to maintain the quiet and the security that have prevailed here over the past two years.”

In other words, Israel has learned to tune out the Obama administration and look after its own security. That would seem like a wise move.

By  |  08:40 AM ET, 03/24/2011

Categories:  Hillary Clinton

 
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