Clinton better for the Palestinians than Bernie Sanders

Regarding Middle East foreign policy, Clinton will likely follow general approach that was favoured by Obama, even if she is far more knowledgeable about region.


2016/07/03 Issue: 63 Page: 17


The Arab Weekly
Khairallah Khairallah



One of the positives for Hillary Clinton becoming the presumptive nominee for US president for the Democratic Party is that this means that rival candidate Bernie Sanders is, for all intents and purposes, out of the presidential race.

US Republican Party nominee Donald Trump’s best chance of reaching the White House would be to contest a presidential election against the left-wing senator from Vermont. What is ironic is that many Arabs backed Sanders on the basis that he is a supporter of the Palestinian cause and has strongly criticised Israeli policies in the past, something that few American politicians dare to do.

The past eight years of the Obama administration clearly demonstrates the United States’ inability to deal with Israel in a way that serves the peace process.

US President Barack Obama began his presidency by pledging that resolving the Palestinian- Israeli issue would be one of his main priorities. Despite putting huge pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu nothing changed and Tel Aviv has continued its restrictive policies that ensure that the two-state solution remains unviable. There can be no independent Palestin­ian state under these conditions.

Now that Clinton has secured enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination, her path to the presidential election, and victory, are clear. Whatever happens, Clinton has already made the history books as the first woman to become the presidential nominee of one of America’s two major parties.

If she becomes president, she will be the first woman to lead the world’s last remaining superpower and the second Clinton to be president. This will be no less a history-shattering moment than Obama’s own presidency.

So what can we expect from a President Hillary Clinton? She played a major role in the United States’ rapprochement with Iran during her tenure as secretary of State. She would have been well aware of secret talks between US and Iranian officials that pre­ceded the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in July 2015.

Regarding Middle East foreign policy, Clinton will likely follow the general approach that was favoured by Obama, even if she is far more knowledgeable about the region. The main question is: Will President Clinton continue to appease Iran in the same manner that Obama has, includ­ing turning a blind eye to its support for terrorism and regional schemes?

Many say Clinton will not simply replicate Obama’s foreign policies, particularly regarding Iran and the Syrian crisis. There may be some differences but we cannot expect a major radical shift between a future Clinton administration and the current Obama administration.

However, Clinton’s involve­ment in the Obama cabinet has given her important experience, particularly regarding foreign policy and the Middle East. She is well aware of what Iran is doing in the region and its sectarian expansionist project that stretches from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even into Yemen.

After all this, will Clinton recall the Palestinian cause at a time when few people are concerned about the injustice that the Palestinian people are experienc­ing?

President Bill Clinton played a key role in seeking a Palestinian- Israeli agreement, even if this did not have the desired results. He was instrumental in the 1993 Oslo agreement and the 2000 Camp David summit. Although no final agreement that was acceptable to both sides was forthcoming, there can be no doubt that he truly sought to resolve this. Hillary Clinton was at her hus­band’s side throughout all this.

With Hillary Clinton now in possession of 2,800 delegates — far more than the 2,383 needed to win the nomination — it is clear that she will be the Democratic nominee for president in the November elections. Clinton will not forget the Palestinian cause if she returns to the White House, even if other issues might take precedence.


Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.


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