Clinton to Netanyahu: I’ll oppose any outside solution to conflict

At NY meeting with Israel’s PM, Democratic nominee vows to fight one-sided UN motions and BDS, seek further strengthening of defense ties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New York, September 25, 2016 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New York, September 25, 2016 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday that, if elected, she would oppose any attempts to impose an outside solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as any one-sided action at the UN.

In a meeting in New York, Clinton said she was committed to countering efforts to delegitimize Israel and to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The two met for about an hour at New York’s W Hotel. Clinton’s campaign said in a statement that the two had an “in-depth conversation.” She stressed that “a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States” and “reaffirmed unwavering commitment” to the relationship.

According to her campaign, Clinton stressed her support for the 10-year, $38 billion military aid package signed between the two countries earlier the month and opposition to efforts to boycott Israel. They also discussed Iran, the conflict in Syria and other regional challenges, including her support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict negotiated by the two parties — not an outside organization like the UN Security Council.

A senior campaign aide told Bloomberg News that Clinton said she intended to further boost the countries’ defense and intelligence cooperation. She also said she would work closely with Israel to ensure Iran sticks to its obligations under the 2015 accord, and to combat Tehran’s support of terrorism against the Jewish state.

The pair know each other well, having held many diplomatic discussions during Clinton’s term as secretary of state between 2009-2013.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu laid out Israel’s positions on regional issues to the former secretary of state, and detailed “its efforts to achieve peace and stability.”

He also thanked her “for her friendship and support of Israel.”

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was in attendance, as was Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan.

Earlier, in a separate meeting, Trump told the Israeli premier that if elected president, he would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.

Trump’s camp said the candidate and Netanyahu discussed a wide variety of issues, including Israel’s experiences in building walls, during a meeting between the two at the billionaire businessman’s office in Manhattan, New York.

“Mr. Trump said that under a Trump administration, there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries. Mr. Trump recognized Israel as a vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism,” a statement from the Trump campaign read.

“The United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel,” the statement added.

Trump also said the two discussed “at length the nuclear deal with Iran, the battle against ISIS and many other regional security concerns.”

The two convened for an hour and 20 minutes in Trump Tower, in Manhattan.

Netanyahu’s bureau released a statement saying the prime minister “thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support of Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“Prime Minister Netanyahu presented to Mr. Trump Israel’s stance regarding regional issues related to Israel’s security and its efforts to bring peace and stability to the region,” the prime minister’s statement read.

Also present at the meeting with the two were Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew who advises the candidate on Israel.

According to Israeli sources, the meetings were set up after the Trump campaign spoke to Netanyahu’s staff on Friday. Netanyahu’s office then reached out to the Clinton campaign in a bid to avoid the appearance of favoring the GOP candidate.

Trump has been a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear agreement and promised during a speech to AIPAC earlier this year that he would deepen ties between the two countries if he were elected president, adding the days of “treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.” But he also raised eyebrows when he questioned Israel’s commitment to a peace deal last year and said he didn’t want to show any bias in favor of one side or the other.

Clinton has supported a negotiated two-state solution in the region, vowed to enforce the Iran nuclear agreement and help defend Israel’s security. The former secretary of state suggested in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 earlier this month that the Islamic State group was “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory” and he had helped strengthen the hands of extremists by his provocative statements about Muslims.

The meetings will also come after the US recently completed a 10-year, $38-billion military aid package for Israel. Clinton said in a statement that it would help “solidify and chart a course for the US-Israeli defense relationship in the 21st century as we face a range of common challenges.”

AP and Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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