For reasons that aren’t altogether clear, this seems to have caused quite a stir yesterday.
Former President Bill Clinton says he agrees that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “not the guy” for a peace deal.A C-SPAN video – first reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz – shows the 42nd president at Sen. Tom Harkin’s Iowa steak fry Sunday speaking with an individual along a rope line.
As the Politico report noted, an unidentified voter told the former president, “Netanyahu himself said that he does not want peace. If we don’t force him to make peace, we will not have peace.” Clinton said he agreed, and talked a bit about his own efforts with Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin.
“But Netanyahu is not the guy,” the man in the rope line added. “I agree with that,” Clinton replied, before adding some context and detail to previous negotiations.
Soon after, RedState published an item citing this as evidence that Hillary Clinton is not “pro-Israel.” The Weekly Standard also wasn’t pleased.
And yet, nothing Clinton said seems the least bit surprising. Netanyahu has made no secret that he’s not interested in negotiating a two-state solution, so it stands to reason Netanyahu “is not the guy” to reach such an agreement.
Steve M. noted that Clinton has never been especially fond of Netanyahu, dating back to some confrontations in the 1990s. As recently as 2011, Foreign Policy reported, “Who’s to blame for the continued failure of the Middle East peace process? Former President Bill Clinton said today that it is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – whose government moved the goalposts upon taking power, and whose rise represents a key reason there has been no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.”
So why all the fuss yesterday about something we already knew?
Part of this, I suspect, is that candor from U.S. leaders about Israel tends to generate headlines.
But the other part is that there remains great interest in just about everything Bill Clinton has to say – even when he’s made similar comments before.
If Hillary Clinton moves forward with possible national plans, we can probably expect quite a bit more of this in the coming years.