Inside the Middle East
December 7, 2010
Posted: 1116 GMT

A series of U.S. diplomatic cables from early this year directly accused Syria of supplying advanced weaponry, including SCUD ballistic missiles, to the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon.

U.S. protests to Damascus met with persistent denials, according to the cables, which were published by the WikiLeaks website.
At a meeting in February, according to one cable, a senior U.S. diplomat stressed Washington's concerns directly with Syrian President Bashar Asad, "who bluntly stated that he knew of no new weapons systems going to Hezbollah."

But just a week later, an urgent note from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus said the United States had learned of Syrian plans to supply Hezbollah with SCUD-D ballistic missiles, which would magnify its threat to Israel.

Clinton wrote: "I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you (Syria) against such a serious escalation." To reinforce the point, the cable continues: "Your interest in avoiding war should require you to exert maximum restraint, including restraining Hezbollah and preventing the group's acquisition of such lethal, long-range weapons." Read more...

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Filed under: Clinton •Hezbollah •Syria •U.S.

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September 23, 2010
Posted: 1618 GMT

Former American President Bill Clinton and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair (CNN IReport)

Suggesting that Russian immigrants in Israel pose an obstacle to a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, former U.S. president Bill Clinton stepped into the mire of Middle Eastern politics this week and prompted a wave criticism from Israeli politicians including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.   

Clinton, speaking at a panel discussion of his Clinton Global Initiative Tuesday, told audience members "An increasing number of the young people in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem. It's a different Israel. 16 percent of Israelis speak Russian."   

Referring to the over one million Russians immigrants who have come to the Jewish state since 1989 Clinton remarked "They've just got there, it's their country, they've made a commitment to the future there...they can't imagine any historical or other claims that would justify dividing it."   

The controversial comments, first reported by the website of Foreign Policy magazine,  come as the Obama administration, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mediates high-stake direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians in an attempt to reach a historic peace agreement within the next year.   

In Israel reaction to the Clinton's remarks has been extremely critical. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed "regret" over the comments late Wednesday and said "As a friend of Israel, Bill Clinton definitely knows that the immigrants from the former Soviet Union have contributed a great deal to the advancement, development and strengthening of the IDF and the State of Israel."   

Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under: Clinton •Israel •Palestinians •Peace Talks •U.S.

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September 22, 2010
Posted: 604 GMT

Former United States president Bill Clinton sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer yesterday and waxed optimistic about the prospect for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians calling a deal "imminently doable".

Clinton cited "real support" from the Arab states and genuine worry from both sides about passing up another opportunity as reasons a deal is "slightly more likely to happen than not."

The former president expressed confidence in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  and his ability to influence right-wing factions in Israel including the Yisrael Beiteinu party of his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman

"I know that Netanyahu can deliver" he told Blitzer "It may cost him his coalition. Lieberman and his crew will have a decision to make. But they trust him on security and they will vote with him in the end to ratify an agreement."

Clinton also laid  blame on the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for not making a peace deal in 2000...take a listen.

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Filed under: Clinton •CNN Coverage •Palestinians •U.S. •Video

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March 17, 2010
Posted: 507 GMT

From Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dismissive of the view that relations between the United States and Israel are in crisis after a row between the two countries over settlements.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bond between the United States and Israel is 'unshakable.'
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bond between the United States and Israel is 'unshakable.'

"Oh, I don't buy that," Clinton told reporters Tuesday at the State Department. "We have an absolute commitment to Israel's security. We have a close, unshakable bond between the United States and Israel and between the American and Israeli people."

An Israeli official earlier confirmed that Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, had told fellow Israeli diplomats that relations between the two countries are "in a crisis."

Clinton acknowledged the United States expressed its "dismay and disappointment" after Israel's announcement that it will allow construction of 1,600 settler housing units in East Jerusalem.

She said U.S. and Israeli officials are in intense talks "over steps that we think would demonstrate the requisite commitment to this process," and the United States is waiting for a response from Israel on steps it is willing to take. She did not say when or how that response would be conveyed.

"We'll see what the next days hold," Clinton said. "There's just too much at stake for the Palestinians and the Israelis. ... Our goal now is to make sure that we have the full commitment from both our Palestinian and Israeli partners to this effort."

The lack of an immediate response, however, has contributed in part to a delay of proximity talks to be led by former Sen. George Mitchell, the Obama administration's special envoy to the Middle East. Read full story...

Filed under: Clinton •Israel •U.S.

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March 3, 2009
Posted: 1257 GMT

A picture shows the note left by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the guest book at the Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Jerusalem on March 3, 2009 following her official visit. Clinton said Washington was committed to Israel's security and called for a halt to Gaza rocket fire as she kicked off her first official visit to the Jewish state.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) smiles as she receives flowers from Israeli President Shimon Peres after their meeting in the president�s residence in Jerusalem on March 3, 2009.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Yad Vashem Chairman and former Israeli chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau view an exhibit called 'Wall Painting under Coercion' during her visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on March 3, 2009.


U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lays a wreath in memory of the Six Million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis, during her visit to the Yad vashem Holocaust Memorial's Hall of Remembrances March 3, 2009 in Jerusalem.

David Silverman/Getty Images.
David Silverman/Getty Images.

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Filed under: Clinton •Israel •Pictures

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