[Published 10 August 2016]
Donald Trump’s trusted co-advisor on Israel — David Friedman — has castigated Hillary Clinton for her role as Secretary of State in perpetrating one of President Obama’s worst foreign policy failures - trashing the letter from President Bush to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 - its terms having been overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress 502 votes to 12.
Friedman - rumoured to be Trump’s Ambassador to Israel if Trump becomes America’s next President — was recently asked this question in a wide ranging interview:
Hillary Clinton has just about everyone suggesting she is the most qualified person ever to be president. Where did she go wrong with the Middle East — if she did?
I don’t think she has made a right decision. I think she said some helpful things when she was the senator from New York when she had a Jewish constituency. As soon as she became secretary of state, the first thing she did was to embrace a unilateral settlement freeze. I think it completely poisoned the environment. I’m not aware of anything she did that is particularly good. I can name off the top of my head things that were nasty, like ripping up the letter from George Bush to Ariel Sharon, which I think was the only thing Israel got from evacuating Gaza.
The Bush letter had acknowledged the risks Israel was taking in unilaterally disengaging from Gaza and part of the West Bank. In return Bush gave Israel written assurances that in final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority America would support Israel:
1. not returning to the 1949 armistice linesIn ripping up these assurances Obama had undermined Israel’s security concerns and negotiating positions as agreed with Obama’s immediate predecessor.
2. demanding recognition as the Jewish state
3. refusing Palestinian Arab “refugees” being resettled in Israel
Israel’s unilateral disengagement was duly completed in 2005 - with 8000 Israeli civilians leaving their homes and businesses established during the previous 35 years - whilst Israel’s military also completely withdrew.
By any analysis that disengagement has been disastrous - bringing Israel and Gaza no peace - only ongoing and continuing conflict resulting from:
1. Thousands of rockets and projectiles being fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centres from Gaza.
2. Terrorist incursions into Israel and
3. The construction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel’s sovereign territory to serve as entry points for future terrorist assaults on Israel by Gaza’s myriad array of terrorist groups
To be fair to Clinton - her role in framing Obama’s policy repudiating the Bush Congress-endorsed assurances remains unclarified and unexplained.
Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State by the full Senate voting 94-2 on 21 January 2009 — having been a Senator since 3 January 2001.
On 24 June 2004 she was part of the Senate majority that voted 95 -3 to endorse the Bush letter.
The fact that Clinton was Secretary of State when the Bush letter was torn up does not necessarily implicate her as the architect of - or personally having agreed to - that appalling decision.
Statements made by Clinton on 17 June 2009 and 25 November 2009 point to her as the lead Obama official charged with implementing Obama’s policy - finally declared by Obama on 19 May 2011. Clinton remained Secretary of State until 1 February 2013.
Critically for Clinton — she now needs to fully explain her role in Obama’s gross act of betrayal of one of America’s staunchest long-standing allies.
Does Clinton avow:
1. Obama’s policy of ripping up the Bush letter in 2011? orClinton needs to come clean before voting day.
2. Her vote in the Senate endorsing the Bush letter in 2004?