Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Sunday and added it is in Israel's best interest to provide greater support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
“I happen to think that moving toward a two-state solution, trying to provide for support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people is in the long-term best interest of Israel, as well as the region and, of course, the people themselves,” Clinton told Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union.
Tapper had asked Clinton to comment on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent statement that he would be neutral when it comes to negotiating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Sen. Ted Cruz's (R., Texas) subsequent criticism of Trump's comment.
Clinton told Tapper both men “missed the mark” with their comments because supporting Israel and working toward a two-state solution are not mutually exclusive.
The Democratic frontrunner said she will defend and support Israel as an ally of the United States with close ties to Washington dating back to the creation of the Jewish state, but added that the Palestinians need their own state.
“I also believe the Palestinians deserve to have a state of their own,” Clinton said. “That's why I support a two-state solution.”
Clinton then touted her record as secretary of state working toward a two-state solution.
“That's what I tried to move forward when I was secretary, holding three very intense conversations between the prime minister of Israel [Benjamin Netanyahu] and the president of the Palestinian Authority [Mahmoud Abbas].”
Clinton has long held that a two-state solution is the only way to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but had difficulty moving the peace process forward when she was secretary of state because the U.S.-Israel relationship was strained during President Obama’s administration.
The issue of Israel’s settlement-building in Jerusalem and the West Bank has been a notable sticking point for Clinton when it comes to her views on Israel. She and Obama demanded that Israel freeze all settlement activity when they came to office in 2009, with Clinton repeatedly calling the settlements “illegitimate” and in opposition to U.S. policy.
Clinton also at times had a contentious relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Democratic frontrunner has described herself as the administration’s “designated yeller” at Netanyahu.
The most famous example of this, which received much pubic attention, was a March 2010 phone call between Clinton and Netanyahu when the former secretary of state threatened the Israeli leader for 45 minutes, causing then-Israeli ambassador to the the U.S. Michael Oren to say U.S.-Israel ties had reached their lowest ebb in 35 years. After the call, Clinton instructed the State Department press secretary to publicize her treatment of Netanyahu.
In her 2014 memoir Hard Choices, Clinton described Israel as an occupying force that denied “dignity and self-determination” to Palestinians in the West Bank. Critics have pointed to this passage as evidence that she is not strongly supportive of the Jewish state.
Emails released last month as part of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server show that her staff at the State Department was considering a plan to spark protests among the Palestinian people to push Israel to the negotiating table. Some of the emails indicate an effort to shame Israel into accepting a two-state solution, even though such a solution would likely endanger Israeli security.
Clinton said in her interview with Tapper on Sunday that the U.S. needs to support Israel now amid the violence and chaos engulfing the entire Middle East. Still, she said that a two-state solution was the only way forward.