WASHINGTON (JTA) – Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration would not negotiate with Hamas unless it meets certain conditions.
"I think on Israel, you cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements," said the nominee for secretary of state on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "That is just for me, you know, an absolute. That is the United States government’s position; that is the president-elect’s position."
In her opening statement, Clinton said that "as intractable as the Middle East problems may seem," the United States "cannot give up on peace."
"The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel’s desire to defend itself under the current conditions and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets," she said. "However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East and paid by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasting peace agreement."
Clinton also deflected a question from committee chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on whether the United States would send an ambassador back to Syria and set up an interest section in Tehran.
"These are matters that are part of our policy review, and we will turn to them with great diligence and attention as soon as we are able to," Clinton said.
Reuters reported that about a half-dozen pro-Palestinian protesters sat quietly through the hearing, holding signs urging a Gaza cease-fire and shouting "What about the people of Gaza?" and "Stand up, Hillary, we need your voice for the people of Gaza" when the session adjourned for lunch. Clinton did not acknowledge the protesters.