Netanyahu vs. Clinton: Round 3
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded again Sunday to charges that he was responsible for failures in the peace process leveled against him by former President Bill Clinton in remarks reported exclusively on The Cable. Netanyahu, who first responded to Clinton on Friday ...
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded again Sunday to charges that he was responsible for failures in the peace process leveled against him by former President Bill Clinton in remarks reported exclusively on The Cable.
Netanyahu, who first responded to Clinton on Friday evening on ABC News, was again confronted with the former president’s accusations on Sunday morning on NBC’s Meet the Press. Host David Gregory drew Netanyahu’s attention to this passage in our story:
Clinton affirmed that the United States should veto the Palestinian resolution at the U.N. Security Council for member-state status, because the Israelis need security guarantees before agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state. But the Netanyahu government has moved away from the consensus for peace, making a final status agreement more difficult, Clinton said.
"That’s what happened. Every American needs to know this. That’s how we got to where we are," Clinton said. "The real cynics believe that the Netanyahu’s government’s continued call for negotiations over borders and such means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank."
Here’s how Netanyahu responded:
You know, I regretfully and respectfully disagree with former President Clinton. He should know, more than anyone else, that in the peace conference he presided in at Camp David in 2000 with [Yasir] Arafat and former Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak, it was the Palestinian side who walked away from his own parameters. And in 2008, President Bush can tell you how the Palestinian side led by President Abbas walked away, just would not close in on another prime minister’s suggestions.
In the two-and-a-half years since then, anybody conversant with the facts knows that I made these offers again and again, called for two states for two peoples, froze the settlements — nobody did that, ever — for nearly a year. They didn’t come. They don’t want to come. And they go around to the U.N. I disagree with that.
Gregory asked Netanyahu whether it’s true he will never give up the West Bank.
"No, we could arrive at an arrangement that takes care of Israel’s security needs and gives the Palestinians a life of dignity for themselves," Netanyahu said. "But they have to have leaders who are prepared to do that. You know what? I hope they do, not just for our sake but for their sake too."
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Netanyahu was so mad about Clinton’s remarks that, "he asked his aides to request that the White House issue a statement distancing itself from Clinton’s statements."
The White House declined to say whether they had received a formal or informal complaint about Clinton’s remarks from Netanyahu’s staff. Asked for a response to Clinton’s remarks by The Cable, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor sent along this statement, which just repeated the administrations standard talking points.
"President Obama expressed his views clearly Wednesday at the outset of his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he said that peace must be negotiated and cannot be imposed on the parties," Vietor said. "Actions at the United Nations will achieve neither statehood nor self-determination for the Palestinians. The Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate through these very difficult issues that have kept the parties apart for decades to achieve the ultimate goal of two states, side by side, living in peace and security."