Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton - would she be that bad for Israel

As some people may have noticed, the United States is holding some type of reality show where the winner gets to be the leader of the free world.
Unfortunately, due to a glitch in the democratic process, one of the candidates may turn out to be a Flesh Eating Lizard. This would leave rational voters with only 2 choices, stay home on election day or vote for former First Lady Hilary Clinton.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am no big fan of Mrs Clinton (or the Democratic Party in general) and I can't comment on her (lack of) honesty or political scandals. As I am not American, my opinion on the US economy or health care or gun rights are not relevant, however as an Israeli who will be directly effected by the foreign policy of the US Government, I think I have the right to share my 2 cents on Mrs Clinton's attitude to the conflict in our little corner of the world.

(As an aside, I believe that all the Republican Candidates other than Trump would be better for Israel and better for America than Hillary or Bernie, and I still don't believe that Trump will win the nomination, so the odds are come November we will see the election of a President Cruz or President Rubio - however on the off chance that Trump does win the nomination, we will almost certainly see President Clinton with Bill as First Lady, these thoughts are on Hillary's policy towards Israel, not whether she has any chance of winning the election)

Firstly, let me say that I don't really trust any politicians, especially not Hillary, so whatever she says may have little bearing on her policies. That said, I was surprisingly impressed with her policy outline described by Arutz 7 (Arutz 7 was highly critical of her plans).
According to Arutz 7, in leaked emails Hillary has an outline of a plan which includes concrete steps for Israel and the PA. This is a massive departure from other world leaders who repeat slogans like "Israel must stop construction in the West Bank and work towards a 2 state solution"

Almost everyone knows that in the current climate the chance of a peaceful 2 state solution is below zero. More chance of the Chinese accepting the Pope as their next leader than a peaceful Palestinian State alongside Israel.
However, Hillary's emails outlined steps that could be taken by both sides to increase normalization and trust between Israel and the PA, which may slowly point us in the direction of a future peace agreement (there are a lot of big "if"s in there)

According to Arutz 7, Clinton is expected to make the following demands of the PA:
  • The PA would be asked to stop incitement against Israel
  • The PA and Israel [are] to organize classroom forums bringing together Israeli and PA students to help nurture mutual understanding.
  • The PA would be required to put Israel on government-issued maps, and the historical Jewish connection with Jerusalem “acknowledged”.
  • The PA [must undertake] more permanent housing for refugee camps
  • Anti-corruption efforts in the PA legal justice system.

These are all excellent suggestions, although they could all be expanded on.
Incitement must be stopped at all levels including schools, mosques and the media. Classroom forums would help to bring Israelis and PA students together, but in addition there could be many other forums including sports, music, science, where Israelis and Palestinians work together on a common goal which is not related to the conflict.
The PA recognizing Israel as a Jewish country is essential for negotiations, just as Israel has (and needs to continue to) recognize the rights of the Palestinian People to self determination.
Permanent housing for refugees and anti-corruption measures are also essential steps needed by the PA.

The Arutz 7 article was very vague about what Israel would have to do in return according to Hillary's Plan. According to the article:

Israel, on the other hand, would, in the framework of some larger agreement, be expected to make a number of serious concessions, including the creation of a voluntary compensation fund to encourage Jews to leave Judea and Samaria. The plan notes does note that housing construction would be tolerated within the major settlement blocs, but not beyond.
Israel would also be pressured to open up Area C, which is under full Israeli control, to Arab economic interests, in particular giving them greater access to rock quarries.
The outlined plan also included transferring greater security control of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority police, giving them full control of Area B and working to minimize IDF operations in Area A.
None of these seem like unreasonable concessions for Israel to make. If the US administration would "tolerate" construction within settlement blocks, it would indicate that they are more realistic about the situation here.
Offering economic opportunities to  Palestinians is also a positive step that is in line with Bibi's "Economic Peace"

So the bottom line is that I really hope that America wakes up and elects Rubio or even Cruz this November, but if we end up with Mrs Clinton back in the White House, it may not be as bad for Israel as some people may think.