WASHINGTON — Young people in the United States and Israel need to be educated about the value of the relationship between the two countries, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
“With every passing year we must tie the bonds tighter, reach out to the next generation,” the front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination said Sunday to the Saban Forum in Washington, an annual conference of American and Israeli leaders.
Clinton, born just before Israel’s independence in 1948, said she belonged to a generation that thrilled to Israel’s successes, but that the admiration was receding.
“There is a generation in both countries today that does not remember that shared past,” she said.
Clinton, as she has elsewhere, sought to distinguish herself from the policies of President Barack Obama, whom she served as secretary of state in his first term. The one-time senator from New York said she would not retreat from attempting to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, as Obama has since the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2014.
“I would as president begin to move forward again,” Clinton said, adding that there are “steps short of a final agreement” the sides could achieve, for instance in determining some borders.
Clinton called on Arab leaders to revive the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative to include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a key Israeli demand of the Palestinians. She also said that one of her first acts would be to invite the Israeli prime minister to visit within the first month.
Clinton also said she would robustly enforce the Iran nuclear deal, and emphasized that she would consider military action as an option should Iran violate the deal and advance toward a nuclear weapon.
“We have to get [enforcement] right in the next months,” she said in a veiled plea to the Obama administration to maintain the pressure on Iran.
Regarding Syria, where Israeli leaders have accused the Obama administration of insufficient investment in ending its civil war, Clinton echoed a key Israeli demand: That allied forces simultaneously work to defeat both the Assad regime, backed by Iran, and militant Islamist Sunnis.
Clinton began by linking last week’s massive terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, to other Islamist attacks, and warned that politicians and others must take care not to blame all Muslims for such terrorism.
“The vast majority of Muslims are on our side of the battle unless we drive them away,” she said.
Nonetheless, she also called on Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf nations to stop their citizens from funding centers for radicalization all over the world.
The Saban Forum is convened by the Brookings Institution and sponsored by Haim Saban, an Israeli-American entertainment mogul who has for years been one of Clinton’s principal backers. Saban introduced Clinton and interviewed her afterward.