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Settlements strain Israel's relationships with U.S. and Hillary Clinton

Outside the AIPAC conference, Binyamin Netanyahu was mocked. Inside, Hillary Clinton's sober message on Israel was received coolly.
Outside the AIPAC conference, Binyamin Netanyahu was mocked. Inside, Hillary Clinton's sober message on Israel was received coolly. (Brendan Smialowski/getty Images)

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Clinton, the former senator from New York and one of the strongest supporters Israel has in the U.S. government, deserved better. The cool treatment of an old friend is something AIPAC can ill afford at a time when there are so many actual foes to deal with.

Those attending the conference got a reminder of that when they walked into the gathering. Across the street were demonstrators carrying vile messages on signs: "God Hates Jews." "You Will Eat Your Babies." Others carried an Israeli flag defaced with a swastika. The liberal Code Pink group marched around the building hollering about "apartheid" and carrying a banner saying "Stop Israel War Crimes."

During her primary fight against Barack Obama, Clinton counted many in the room as part of her core constituency, but now she was part of an administration they didn't entirely trust. They stood to applaud her arrival, but with little of their past enthusiasm.

She began with a defense of her pro-Israel credentials that should not have been necessary: "I have shared your pride. . . . I sat there and listened. . . . I was proud to be a strong voice." She pressed all the right buttons, calling Iran's nuclear ambitions "unacceptable" four times.

But when she asserted that "the Obama administration has worked to promote Israel's security and long-term success," there was only silence in the room. Finally, she addressed the controversy. Both Israel and the Palestinians, she said, "must confront the reality that the status quo of the last decade has not produced long-term security or served their interests, nor has it served the interests of the United States." There was no applause.

It remained quiet as she called for a settlement "based on the '67 lines with agreed swaps" of territory. "It is our devotion to this outcome, two states for two peoples secure and at peace, that led us to condemn the announcement of plans for new construction in East Jerusalem," she said. "This is about getting to the table . . . and staying there until the job is finally done."

In the audience, the majority just sat and stared at their old friend.


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