What We Can Expect From Hillary Clinton on Israel/Palestine

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Press Conference in Jerusalem, Israel, on July 16, 2012. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Press Conference in Jerusalem, Israel, on July 16, 2012. (Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv)


Stephen Zunes | Truthout | December 5, 2015

Supporters of the international legal framework – which has, with mixed success, governed international affairs since the end of World War II – have long expressed concerns over the prospect of former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton becoming president. Her support for the US invasion of Iraq (a flagrant violation of the UN Charter), as well as her hostility toward the International Criminal Court, her support for international recognition of Morocco’s illegal annexation of occupied Western Sahara, and her attacks against the United Nations and a number of its key agencies raise concerns that her election would bring a return to the Bush administration’s neoconservative rejection of longstanding international legal principles.

One of the big challenges regarding the application of international law is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which involves a foreign belligerent occupation, illegal colonization, war crimes committed by both the occupying power and at least one arm of the resistance, and scores of UN Security Council resolutions. As senator and subsequently, Hillary Clinton has developed a reputation as one of the most right-wing Democrats on Israel/Palestine, repeatedly siding with Likud-led governments against Israeli progressives and moderates, and taking a dismissive attitude regarding the application of international law or any role for the United Nations.

As a senator, Clinton defended Israel’s colonization efforts in the occupied West Bank and was highly critical of the United Nations for its efforts to uphold international humanitarian law, which forbids transferring civilian populations onto territories under foreign belligerent occupation. Clinton criticized the UN’s enforcement of four UN Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to end the practice, and even took the time for a 2005 visit to a major Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank in a show of support. She moderated that stance somewhat as secretary of state in expressing concerns over how the right-wing Israeli government’s settlement policies harmed the overall climate of the peace process, but she has refused to acknowledge the illegality of the settlements or demand that Israel abide by international demands to stop building additional settlements. Subsequently, she has argued that the Obama administration pushed too hard in the early years of the administration to get Israel to suspend settlement construction.

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