Clinton: I would oppose attempts to impose Israeli-Palestinian solution
Democratic frontrunner says one of the first things she'll do if elected, is invite the Israeli PM to the White House, reiterating American support of Israel: 'We will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.'
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton stressed on Monday that she would oppose attempts by any outside parties to impose a solution on Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual conference, the former secretary of state asserted that "only a negotiated two-state agreement" can lead to a secure Israel and an independent Palestinian state, further stating "I remain convinced that peace with security is possible."
To this regard, she mentioned the Arab League decision to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and chastized the world for having yet to do this. "If the Arab League can designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, surely it is time for the international community to do that," she said.
Many countries and political unions, such as the European Union, only label Hezbollah's armed wing as a terrorist organization, and views the political wing as legitimate. The European Union Ambassador to Lebanon met with Hezbollah representatives in 2013.
Clinton reaffirmed the United States' strong ties with Israel, saying that "we will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.”
Further underscoring her committment to Israel, Clinton said that "One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House."
She also criticized Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's approach to Israel. “We need 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,” she said, adding that "America can't ever be neutral when it comes to Israel's security and survival, and anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president."
Clinton also took aim at Trump's vow that, if elected, he would deport illegal immigrants and bar Muslims temporarily from entering the United States.
She noted an incident during the 1930s, when the United States initially refused entry to a shipload of Jews trying to escape Nazi tyranny.
"We've had dark chapters in our history before," Clinton said. "We remember the nearly 1,000 Jews aboard the St. Louis who were refused entry in 1939 and sent back to Europe. But America should be better than this. And I believe it is our responsibility to say so.
"If you see bigotry, oppose it, if you see violence, condemn it, if you see a bully, stand up to him," she said.
Clinton defended the nuclear deal the US and world powers signed with Iran, saying, "I believe Israel and the US are safer but our approach must be 'distrust and verify,'" adding that "Iran must understand that if we see any violation we will act to stop it, with force if necessary."
In keeping with the same vein, she said that the United States must, "continue to demand the safe return of Robert Levinson and all American citizens" from the Iranian regime. Robert Levinson is a Jewish US DEA agent who was kidnapped by Iranian authorities while researching a smuggling case in 2007. He has been denied visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the last "proof of life" the US recieved was in November 2010. His whereabouts and condition remain unknown.
Clinton also acknowledged the anti-Semetic and anti-Zionist challenges facing Jewish students on college campuses across the US, and the threat Israel faced from BDS, saying "We have to be united in the fight against BDS. To students on campus, don't let anyone silence or bully you."
This year’s conference coincides with a very dramatic primary season in the US ahead of November elections. Of the remaining candidates for the parties’ nominees, only Bernie Sanders – born in 1941 Brooklyn to a Jewish Polish immigrant father and a mother whose parents were Jewish immigrants – decided to skip the conference.
Besides Clinton, Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich are to address the conference.
Clinton, House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, and Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog were scheduled to speak on Monday morning starting at 8:00 AM EST. Starting at 5:00 PM EST, the speakers will be Cruz, Kasich, Trump, and Speaker of the US House of Representatives Rep. Paul Ryan.
Trump’s invitation to speak has been controversial in light of comments he has made during his campaign and his lack of clear positions. Unlike Cruz, the real estate mogul and reality TV star has not said he would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a perennial Republican campaign promise, and, unlike Cruz, he has said he will be neutral as a negotiator in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cruz's campaign website features an entire section on Israel; Trump's does not address it all. Trump said Sunday on ABC TV's "This Week" he will lay out his ideas for a peace deal in Monday's speech.
Some have announced they will protest Trump, if not by disrupting his speech by walking out. Others have said the speech will be an important opportunity to hear Trump explain his views. The debate has played out in dramatic fashion since AIPAC issued its invitations and candidates began responding to them.
South Florida Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is among a group of about 40 rabbis that plans to boycott Trump's address Monday evening, saying his appearance "poses political, moral, and even spiritual quandaries."
"We have been urging rabbis to simply not attend the Trump speech — to let our absence be felt and noted," Salkin wrote in a column for the Religious News Service last week. "Sometimes, you just have to scream — even silently."
Then there are those who believe the speech will be an important opportunity to hear Trump explain his views, no matter how much they may disagree, and stay on good terms with a viable candidate for the highest office in the land.
"It's important that the lobby keep itself on decent terms with whatever powers govern in Washington," commentator J.J. Goldberg wrote in the Jewish newspaper The Forward.
Writing in Time magazine, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt defended AIPAC's decision to invite the presidential candidates, including Trump, to speak. But Greenblatt also announced that his group will redirect money in the amount of Trump's contributions over the years to its No Place for Hate anti-bias education program, which addresses "exactly the kind of stereotyping and scapegoating he has injected into this political season."
"Even as the campaign has surfaced ugly rhetoric, we can reach higher," he wrote, calling on other Jewish groups to support similar initiatives.