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Bill Clinton Encourages Obama on Mideast Peace Effort

The Wall Street Journal

Monday 5 جمادى الأولى 1431, by Laura Meckler

All the versions of this article:

  • English

Former President Bill Clinton said he would "strongly support" an effort by President Barack Obama to issue his own Middle East peace plan, something now under discussion at the White House.

"We need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations," Mr. Clinton said in an interview aired Sunday on ABC’s "This Week." "If this is the tactic he decides to adopt, I will strongly support it."

Mr. Clinton said he has talked the issue over with Mr. Obama and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as well as with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He added that there was a strong argument against putting a peace plan on the table as well, namely that the Israeli government "almost certainly would reject it." There is already considerable tension between the U.S. and Israel over U.S. demands that Israel halt settlement construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians view as their territory.

If the Israelis were to reject a U.S. peace plan, Clinton said, "the argument is that that makes us look weak."

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this month that issuing such a plan would be a "grave mistake." "The solution has to be homegrown," he said.

Key Arab leaders, such as Jordan’s King Abdullah II, have publicly called for Obama to impose on Israel parameters for negotiations, arguing that the process would otherwise stall interminably.

White House officials, such as National Security Adviser James Jones, have discussed the prospects of Washington proposing its own Mideast plan. But administration officials have emphasized that no action is imminent.

Asked about the idea, Clinton first said that he didn’t want to give the current president any public advice that would foreclose his options. But he went on to suggest that he supported the idea of issuing a plan.

"Look at the ramifications of this. Half of the energy coming out of all this organization and money-raising for terror comes out of the allegations around the unresolved Palestinian issue," Clinton said. "If there were a Palestinian state working in partnership ... it would be a whole different world. All the Arabs would identify with Israel. They’d have a political and economic partnership. The whole economic basis in the Middle East would shift from oil to ideas."

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