White House hopeful Hillary Clinton earlier this year told senior staffers that a facade of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was preferable to no talks at all, the latest batch of leaked emails released by WikiLeaks showed.
In correspondence dated March 23, 2015, Clinton wrote foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan and campaign chairman John Podesta saying that a “Potemkin process is better than nothing.”
Clinton’s message was a response to an earlier email from Sullivan who sent the presidential candidate a link to a New York Times article about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology for his remarks ahead of Israel’s March 2015 elections that “Arab voters are going in droves to the polls.”
“Unsurprisingly, Pragmatic Bibi makes an appearance,” Sullivan wrote sarcastically in the message.
“This is an opening that should be exploited,” Clinton said of Netanyahu’s apology in her response, which came less than a month after the former secretary of state announced her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Last week, the WikiLeaks organization posted what it said were thousands of emails obtained in a hack of the Clinton campaign chairman’s personal email account.
Many of the emails leaked in the latest dump refer to Israel and its relations with the US under the Obama administration.
A December 2015 conversation with Stuart Eizenstat, a former US diplomat and close associate of the Clintons, detailed at length a number of key positions on the Israel-US relationship held by Netanyahu.
Writing Sullivan and Podesta, Eizenstat referred to a senior Israeli official who said Netanyahu felt Clinton was “more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House.”
Eizenstat said the unnamed Israeli official told him that Netanyahu’s relationship with Clinton is far from how it has often been portrayed in both the Israeli and US media.
“The Prime Minister always had a ‘surprising good relationship’ with Hillary. ‘She is easy to work with’, and… she is more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House,” he wrote in describing the views attributed to Netanyahu. “Even during their famous 43 minute phone call, when he felt like slamming down the phone, he felt she was simply heavily scripted and reading from points prepared by the White House.”
Eizenstat was referring to a dispute in 2010 when US President Barack Obama tasked then-secretary of state Clinton with telephoning Netanyahu to berate him for a planning committee’s approval of new housing in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, which lies over the pre-1967 Green Line and which the US considers a West Bank settlement, announced during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel.
Netanyahu had apologized for the timing of the decision — Biden had accepted the apology — but Clinton was then dispatched by the Obama White House to reopen the dispute. The content of their phone conversation, including the secretary’s harsh accusation that the dispute raised questions about Israel’s commitment to its relationship with the United States, was promptly leaked to the US media.
In his email, Eizenstat said he and the Israeli figure also discussed “possible economic initiatives to help the Palestinians,” adding that “the Prime Minister is genuinely interested in doing positive things on the ground,” but that is being prevented by a number of complications, including Washington’s yet-to-be decided stance on a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange earlier this month announced he would reveal messages “significant in relation to the US elections,” centering on what he called “interesting features of US power factions.”
In July, WikiLeaks posted a trove of emails that suggested the Democratic National Committee was favoring Clinton over her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary season. Clinton’s campaign pointed to a massive hacking of DNC computers in June that cybersecurity firms linked to the Russian government.
Assange’s organization also suggested that the murder of Jewish DNC staffer Seth Rich in Washington, DC in July was a politically motivated assassination, offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of his killer.
Since its launch in January 2007, Wikileaks has published over 10 million leaked documents, including logs of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a cache of embarrassing diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.
In 2010, Assange took refuge in the London embassy of Ecuador — which granted him political asylum in 2012 after he lost a legal battle to block his extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations.