WASHINGTON (JTA) – Hillary Rodham Clinton embraced the Obama administration’s second-term Middle East policies in an address to the American Jewish Committee.
Clinton, in a major foreign policy address Wednesday coming as she nears a decision on whether to seek the presidency in 2016, outlined her role as President Obama’s first-term secretary of state in setting the stage for second-term policies, including nuclear talks with Iran and the renewed Israel-Palestinians talks.
“I was involved in developing a bilateral channel,” she said, referring to the nuclear talks between Iran and major powers that have largely been credited to Clinton’s successor as secretary of state, John Kerry. “This is a promising development and we need to test it.”
Clinton, speaking to an enthusiastically pro-Israel crowd attending the AJC’s annual Washington conference, reinforced her image as a foreign policy hawk by embracing the rhetoric of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in describing possible outcomes of the Iran talks.
“To get there, we will have to be tough, clear-eyed and ready to walk away if need be,” she said. “No deal is better than a bad deal. We cannot or should not accept any agreement that endangers Israel or our national security.”
However, Clinton also made clear that she rejected concerns by Netanyahu and Republicans that the talks now underway ceded too much to Iran, for instance in lifting some sanctions.
“There will be an opportunity to put in place additional sanctions in the future,” she said.
Clinton also praised Kerry for his efforts in renewing the Israeli-Palestinian talks last July, despite their collapse last month. Like Kerry, she squarely blamed both sides for the collapse.
“In the end, the parties were not ready to make the compromise necessary,” she said.
A feature of Clinton’s 2008 bid for the presidency, and of some of the bitter exchanges between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in that primary race, was that she was perceived as being relatively closer to the pro-Israel community.
Clinton as secretary of state maintained a low profile on Iran and on Israeli-Palestinian peace, contrasting with Kerry’s subsequent assertive posture in both areas.