Some of my conservative friends contend that Hillary Clinton had absolutely no accomplishments during her tenure as Secretary of State (other than frequent flyer mileage). Indeed whenever there is a liberal guest on the Hugh Hewitt program the hosts asks for a list of Clinton’s State Department accomplishments. Despite their love of everything Clinton, not one of them has ever come up with an answer.
They aren’t trying hard enough. Purposely or by accident, they are overlooking Ms Clinton’s one major accomplishment as the nation’s top diplomat, Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. No she didn’t encourage peace talks, she destroyed the chance for peace talks during her tenure.
Whatever one thinks about the talks and if they have a choice to succeed, there is no possibility of peace if the sides aren’t talking. There were peace talks during Condoleezza Rice’s Secretary of State tenure and there are talks today, but the two sides never talked when Hillary was in office.
The reason they stopped was because Hillary Clinton made settlements an issue.
While the Palestinian’s have never accepted Israeli settlements, secession of all settlement building has never been a precondition to talks. Israel had long since agreed not to build new “settlements” in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) but would continue to add housing units to existing communities.
During the government of PM Ehud Barak, and since talks restarted last year direct talks were happening despite the fact that Israel was building new homes in existing communities.
It was Hillary Clinton’s naiveté that made the settlements an issue. Clinton first demanded the freeze in 2009 and was quickly backed up by Obama. What Clinton perceived as a minor concession (a settlement freeze including no new housing units in existing communities) was for Israel a grave sacrifice. From the average Israeli’s point of view she was saying to adults that new apartments, which would accommodate their married children’s families, their married kids could no longer live near their parents.
This was a major error by the Obama administration and it was compounded by their inclusion of Jerusalem in the mix and their constant public berating of the Jewish State. Furthermore the demand for a freeze of natural community growth broke a US/Israel agreement made during the Bush administration.
Secretary of State Clinton said there was never an agreement between Israel and the US about natural expansion of existing settlements. Elliot Abrams who negotiated the agreement for the Bush administration explained that Clinton was lying.
Immediately after Hillary made it an issue the Palestinians seized upon it and made it their own. Seeing an opportunity to avoid talking, they used the U.S. demand to make a settlement freeze a precondition to further talks; even though there were negotiations and construction happening simultaneously before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.
While the way he is conducting the latest set of talks is naive’ in its own way, one cannot argue with the fact that once John Kerry took over the State Department negotiations began between the two sides without an Israeli agreement to stop adding new apartments to existing settlements.
That, my friends is Hillary Clinton’s only accomplishment as Secretary of State, she killed any chance for peace in the Middle East.