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Leaked Cables on Israel: Israel and Hillary

(October 17, 2016)

Leaked Cables on Israel:
Israel and Hillary

(October 17, 2016)

Return to Leaked Cables on Israel: Table of Contents

Former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat sent an email to Clinton's top foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan on March 25, 2015, suggesting things that the candidate could do in order to “calm the turbulent waters” of the U.S.-Israel relationship following nuclear negotiations with Iran. Jake Sullivan responds to the email asking if the two of them can speak at 12:30.

On Mar 25, 2015, at 10:47 AM, Eizenstat, Stuart <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Jake,

The Obama White House-Bibi relationship is obviously deteriorating to the point of no return. It is more poisonous than US-Israeli relationship in my lifetime. Even during the Nixon/Kissinger flaps with Prime Minister Meir and then Rabin after the Yom Kippur War, including Kissinger’s threat of a “reassessment” of U.S. policy; the George H.W. Bush/James Baker-Shamir period, when there was an effort to freeze loan guarantees; the Carter-Begin relationship leading up to Camp David and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty; or the several “reassessments” by Reagan as a result of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and other actions, there was nothing like the public personal animosity that exists now. The Prime Minister’s efforts to back-off his immediate pre-election statements about Israeli Arab voting and opposition to a two-state solution have not only been rebuffed by both the President, and most recently, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, but they have effectively questioned the Prime Minister’s candidness. Olive branches have been spurned. Fuel was added to the fire with the allegation of Israeli intelligence intervention in the Iran talks. There is a distinct possibility that the Administration may seek a new UN Security Council Resolution embodying the two-state solution, with 1967 lines and agreed land swaps, and some vague statements about Jerusalem.

If and when an Iran framework agreement is announced this week, this combustible situation will explode. I sent you a lengthy memo March 17 on the Iran nuclear talks, based upon my chairmanship of the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force.

This obviously places Hillary in an extremely difficult position, caught between the President she served and the organized parts of the Jewish community, I have talked several times recently, including yesterday afternoon, with Malcolm Honlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. They have refrained from directly criticizing the President, but he told me that he and most of his organizations are extraordinarily concerned about the situation, and highly desirous of Hillary making some statement to calm the turbulent waters. At the same time, more liberal Jews are incensed at Bibi. However, as the NYT reports today, the vehemence of the President’s reaction, even to Bibi’s “peace offering”, is turning the tide in Israel in the Prime Minister’s favor, and may do so here, as well.

Permit me to suggest some points she might make. By way of background, I have very deep connections to the State of Israel and to its elected officials and leading academics. I go to Israel two to three times a year, perhaps 50 times since my first visit in 1965. My grandfather and great-grandfather are buried in Israel, and I have scores of relatives and friends there. During the Clinton Administration, I was responsible for the economic dimension of the peace process, working with Yasir Arafat, the Jordanians and the Israeli government on initiatives like Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Gaza and Jordan; construction of the airport in Gaza; facilitating some 50,000 Palestinian workers coming to Israel daily, and 20,000 trusted Palestinian businessmen who could enter Israel with their own cars. I co-chair with Dennis Ross the Jewish People’s Policy Institute of Jerusalem(JPPI), a think tank funded by the Jewish Agency and major American Jewish federations and foundations, focusing on strategic challenges facing Israel and the Diaspora around the world.

First, she should stress the need to “lower the temperature level” of rhetoric on all sides. The overall political, military, defense relationship with Israel is too important to allow personal differences to intrude on the future direction of U.S. policy. It is time to look to the future and not fixate on campaign statements, which often in all democracies can be excessive, as they were here. Moreover, we must respect the democratic process in Israel, just as we would expect Israeli leaders to accept the election and re-election of our President. It is time to put the election behind us, and roll-up our collective sleeves and get back to work on rebuilding confidence and trying to develop the parameters to return to the negotiating table.

Second, she should stress the enduring commitment of the United States to Israel’s security interests, not only direct military threats, but attacks against Israel in the form of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, on campuses in the U.S. and Europe. She should express grave concern for the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe and violent attacks by radical Islamic terrorists (Obama refuses to use this term; she will need to decide what language to use and then stick with it) against Jews in Europe (Paris, Toulouse, Malmo) which > conflate their hatred of Israel with Jews in their country.

Third, and critically, she should express a strong feeling that Israel MUST remain a bipartisan issue, as it has been since its formation. She should sharply criticize those in the U.S. and in Israel who are injecting Israel into a partisan context. The invitation to Bibi was not only done without prior notice to the President, but also to the Democratic leadership.

Fourth, she should reiterate the long-standing support for the two-state solution, as the only one which will ensure Israel remains a majority Jewish democratic state. Indefinite control over two million Palestinians is not in Israel’s interests nor theirs. This will require compromises neither side has been willing to make, despite Secretary Kerry’s herculean efforts. It is important for her to remind people that in both the year 2000 with Prime Minister Barak and in 2008 with Prime Minster Olmert, Israel offered to withdraw from 95% of the West Bank, make East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state, and to allow up to 50,000 Palestinians to return to Israel for family reunions, and it was not accepted. No Palestinian leader is willing to forego their “right of return”. At the same time, settlement expansion under Bibi and his insistence that Palestinians accept not just the “State of Israel” but “the Jewish State of Israel”, does not create an environment for mutual sacrifice.

Fifth, she should call for all sides to avoid unilateral actions, like the Palestinian effort to seek a “war crimes” investigation against Israel in the International Criminal Court (interestingly, just this week, the ICC indicated it would also investigate Hamas); settlement expansion; and efforts to seek a new UN Resolution to supersede UN Resolution 242, with the consent of neither Israel or the Palestinians (this would be controversial with the Obama Administration, as they would see this as a preemptive action by Hillary to preempt their effort; thus she might hold her powder on this until there is more certainty what the Administration will do; still, at some point, she may have to take a position; this would not negate the need for her to advise against unilateral actions). It is time to get back to the negotiating table.

Sixth, realistically, there is no clear way to break the current impasse. Thus, she should suggest the following (I call it the diplomatic equivalent of the medical Hippocratic oath: “do no harm”; do not do anything that makes a two-state solution less possible) :

(1) There will be an expansion of settlements because couples have babies. But these should be within established settlement blocks, which in the Clinton Parameters and other plans, would be part of Israel in any peace agreement. In fact, over 80% of all settlement expansion is within the footprint of these major blocks. She should call for the Israeli government to remove settlement outposts which are illegal under their own law, and project deeper and deeper into Palestinian territory and make a two-state solution impossible. There has never been a mapping exercise with the Israelis on what they consider the parameters of the existing blocks. This should be jointly done.

(2) There should be an expansion of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, which is important for Israel in working with the Palestinians on intelligence sharing against terrorists, and avoids an unsustainable military takeover of the whole West Bank. This could take the following forms:

(a) Establish several QIZs in the West Bank. This allows duty-free treatment of products within the QIZ into the U.S., if there is as little as 10% Israeli content. I visited the QIZ in Gaza in July 2000, and it was a beautiful thing to see. There were 30 plants employing over 1000 Gazans, and a second phase was being built. The only Israeli presence, was an unarmed Israeli soldier, who watched the products being loaded onto trucks, where they were whisked through the border and to the airport in Gaza. I also visited a QIZ in Irbid, Jordan. There are some dozen in Jordan and, I believe, around four to six in Egypt. Astonishingly, there are none in the West Bank. In late January, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, I met with the deputy prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, and raised this possibility; he was very positive.

(b) Restore the $400 million in tax revenues, the Israeli government is withholding in response to the Palestinians going to the ICC.

(c) Begin to carefully allow vetted Palestinians to work in Israel. Again, at its peak, it was well over 50,000; some estimates were as high as 100,000.

(d) Increase the territory in the West Bank under control of the Palestinian Authority.

(e) Reduce the number of check points within the West Bank, given the security fence. I have a close friend in Israel (David Harman, the son of former Israeli Ambassador to the US Abe Harman), who teaches at Bard College, Hebrew University, and al-Quds university in the West Bank. He has told me it takes up to 2 hours or more each way for some of his Palestinian students to get to class. This only increases anger in the Palestinian community.

(f) Allow carefully vetted Gazans to travel to and from the West Bank, if the PA controls the passages, along with Israelis. Also, increase the range of products that can be imported and exported from Gaza, and the range of fishing rights off the Gaza coast.

Jake, she may not wish to have all of this in one statement, and limit herself to the First through Fifth points. But she needs to say enough to be substantive.

I have sent you separately, at your request, Jewish leaders to whom she should reach out. She needs to make a statement sooner rather than later, as things are spiraling out of control.

Best wishes,

Stu Eizenstat
Stuart Eizenstat
Covington & Burling LLP
One CityCenter, 850 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 662 5519 (tel) | (202) 778-5519 (fax)
[email protected]

From:[email protected]
To: [email protected] 
Date: 2015-03-25 13:19
Subject: Re: Israel and Hillary

Can we talk at 12:30?

Source: Wikileaks