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December 1, 2012 11:11 pm

Hillary Clinton at Saban Forum: Israel Lacking in Generosity and Empathy for “Oppressed” Palestinians (VIDEO)

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Hillary Clinton at the Saban Forum. Photo: Screenshot.

In a candid talk delivered at the Saban Forum on U.S.-Israel Relations in Washington D.C. on Friday, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the Palestinian Authority for a lack of progress towards peace in the region, and called out Israel for what she described as, “a lack of generosity,” towards the Palestinian Arabs and a “lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion.”

“There is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds,” she added.

These comments were made during a question and answer session that followed a speech  given at the Forum in which Clinton also spoke affectionately about Israel, pledging to return to the Jewish state as a private citizen.

“As I prepare to trade in my post as Secretary of State for a little more rest and relaxation, I look forward to returning to Israel as a private citizen on a commercial plane – (laughter) – walking the streets of the Old City, sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv, visiting the many Israelis and Palestinians I’ve gotten to know over the years,” she said.

Shocked by her candor, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted: “A serious question, @blakehounshell, and @lrozen — does Hillary know she’s speaking on the record?”

The full text of her statements,  courtesy of the State Department website can be read here. Clinton’s full comments about Israel’s “suspicion” regarding the Palestinian Arabs, in context, can be read below:

Well, look, I think Israelis have good grounds to be suspicious. And I would never be one who tries to rewrite or dismiss history. The Palestinians could have had a state as old as I am if they had made the right decision in 1947. They could have had a state if they had worked with my husband and then-Prime Minister Barak at Camp David. They could have had a state if they’d worked with Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni.

Now, would it have been a perfectly acceptable outcome for every Israeli and every Palestinian? No. No compromise ever is. But there were moments of opportunity. And I will also say this. When Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze I flew to Jerusalem. We’d been working on this. George Mitchell had been taking the lead on it. And when Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze, it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t cover East Jerusalem, but it covered much of the contested area in the West Bank.

And I stood on a stage with him at 11 o’clock – Israelis always meet late at night, I don’t understand it – (laughter) – but 11 o’clock at night, midnight, and I said it was unprecedented for any Israeli prime minister to have done that. I got so criticized. I got criticized from the right, the left, the center, Israeli, Jewish, Arab, Christian, you name it. Everybody criticized me. But the fact was it was a 10-month settlement freeze. And he was good to his word. And we couldn’t get the Palestinians into the conversation until the tenth month.

So, look, I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.

And I think that, unfortunately, there are more and more Israelis and Palestinians who just reject that idea out of hand: Why bother? Why try? We’ll never be able to reach an agreement with the other. But in the last 20 years, I’ve seen Israeli leaders make an honest, good-faith effort and not be reciprocated in the way that was needed.

Videos of Clinton’s speech and her comments on the Israelis are posted below:

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