Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton considered a secret plan created by her then-advisers to foment unrest among Palestinian citizens and spark protests in order to push the Israeli government back to the negotiating table, according to emails released as part of the investigation into the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s private email server.
In a Dec, 18, 2011, email, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering suggested that Clinton consider a plan to restart then-stalled peace negotiations by kickstarting Palestinian demonstrations against Israel.
Pickering described the effort as a potential "game changer in the region," recommending that the United States undertake a clandestine campaign to generate unrest. Clinton requested that his email be printed.
"What will change the situation is a major effort to use non-violent protests and demonstrations to put peace back in the center of people's aspirations as well as their thoughts, and use that to influence the political leadership," Pickering wrote.
"This is far from a sure thing, but far, in my humble view, from hopeless," he continued. "Women can and ought to be at the center of these demonstrations. Many men and others will denigrate the idea. I don't and I don't think that was your message."
Palestinian women, he noted, are less likely than men to resort to violence.
"It must be all and only women. Why? On the Palestinian side the male culture is to use force," Pickering wrote, comparing the effort to the protests in Egypt that deposed former leader Hosni Mubarak. "Palestinian men will not for long patiently demonstrate — they will be inclined over time and much too soon to be frustrated and use force. Their male culture comes close to requiring it."
Pickering noted that the administration must keep its role in the demonstration a secret, so as not to aggravate ties with Israel.
"Most of all the United States, in my view, cannot be seen to have stimulated, encouraged or be the power behind it for reasons you will understand better than anyone," he wrote, suggesting that the government enlist liberal non-profit groups in Israel. "I believe third parties and a number NGOs [non-government organizations] on both sides would help."
As relations with Israel remained tense, another Clinton confidant, Anne Marie Slaughter, sent a staff-wide email to Clinton staffers recommending that they undertake a "Pledge for Palestine" campaign aimed at convincing U.S. millionaires and billionaires to donate significant portions of their wealth to the Palestinian cause.
The effort, Slaughter wrote in the September 2010 email, could help shame Israel.
"Such a campaign among billionaires/multi-millionaires around the world would reflect a strong vote of confidence in the building of a Palestinian state and could offset the ending of the moratorium for Palestinians," Slaughter wrote. "There would also be a certain shaming effect re Israelis, who would be building settlements in the face of a pledge for peace."
Slaughter, who described the effort as a "crazy idea," suggested tapping the "Clinton fundraising network" in order to raise the money needed.
"With even 30 calls to the right people in the Clinton fundraising network it should be possible to generate a substantial enough amount quickly enough to capture the public imagination," she wrote in the email, which was sent to top Clinton staffers, including Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.