Hillary Clinton pans Netanyahu as ‘untrustworthy,’ says he has to go

Former US secretary of state criticizes prime minister for his role in recent events, adds he must be ousted if he is an obstacle to postwar planning for Gaza

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks to MSNBC, February 7, 2024 (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks to MSNBC, February 7, 2024 (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton laid into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday and called for his ouster.

“Netanyahu should go. He is not a trustworthy leader. It was on his watch that the [October 7] attack happened. He needs to go, and if he’s an obstacle to a ceasefire, if he’s an obstacle to exploring what’s to be done the day after, he absolutely needs to go,” Clinton told MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight” in an interview.

It was unclear whether Clinton believed Israel should permanently halt its military campaign under the present circumstances, having voiced strong support for its war effort in the past.

“We wish there was a ceasefire. If Hamas would agree to a ceasefire, there would be a ceasefire,” she said.

Hamas has made steep demands, including for a permanent ceasefire, that Israel has said it cannot agree to, in a new proposal for the release of the hostages it still holds. Israel has said it will continue the war until the Hamas regime is toppled and the hostages are freed.

Asked about US President Joe Biden’s relationship with Netanyahu, the former Democratic presidential candidate and first lady said, “I think Biden has done everything that he could do to… respond to the legitimate concerns of the Israeli people following October 7, to ally himself with Israel in the face of a terrorist attack from a terrorist organization.

“But I think it’s also clear that Biden is doing everything he can to influence Netanyahu.”

War erupted when Hamas led a devastating October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Some 3,000 terrorists invaded southern Israel across the border with the Gaza Strip, slaughtering those they found and abducting 253 people of all ages who were taken as hostages to Gaza. Over half remain captive.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, Jerusalem, February 7, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Clinton defended Israel’s conduct, noting that Hamas started the war and that Israel has a right to defend itself within the laws of war.

“Look what Russia has done to Ukraine, destroying hospitals, schools, leveling whole cities, kidnapping children. It’s horrible. When you’re the aggressor, as Hamas was on October 7, or as Russia was in February of 2022, what do you do with an aggressor? You have to stop them,” she said.

“It’s fair to say Hamas cares nothing about the civilians who are being murdered or killed both by Hamas still in Gaza or through military operations by Israel. The Hamas leaders could not be clearer. Hamas is not doing anything to protect Palestinians,” Clinton added.

Clinton had a December meeting with families of hostages in New York where she said securing the release of captives should be a top priority. At the time, she also accused Netanyahu of being overly concerned with his political survival during a highly tumultuous time for Israel, according to various Hebrew media reports.

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton meets with families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas, December 21, 2023. (Hostages and Missing Families Forum)

During her interview with MSNBC, Clinton was also pressed on pro-Palestinian protests that have taken place on many college campuses in the US, including Columbia University in New York City, where she teaches.

“There’s a role for protest, and I think there should be rules set, guardrails set,” she said. “You have to get a permit to have an event or a march here in New York. I’m not saying it’s easy because it’s not. People who violate the rules have to be held accountable. You can’t have a responsible debate about whatever your point of view is if you’re screaming at each other.”

Clinton’s remarks came as current US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Israel for meetings with leaders, during which he voiced sharp criticism of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying Israel must not “dehumanize” the civilian population in the Palestinian enclave.

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