Do we want daylight?

Daylight — when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship, last year it was a good thing. But today at the AIPAC policy conference it was something that should be avoided, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

When top Jewish leaders had their first meeting with President Barack Obama last summer, the most talked-about moment that came out of the meeting was probably an exchange between Conference of Presidents executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein and the president. As Ron wrote at the time:

Hoenlein said that peace progress was likelier when there was "no daylight" between Israel and the United States. Obama agreed that it must always be clear that Israel has unalloyed U.S. support but added that for the past eight years, referring to the Bush administration, there was "no daylight and no progress."

In other words, Obama seemed to be saying that a little bit of daylight between the U.S. and Israel might help the peace process along.

But this morning, Clinton said daylight between the United States and the Jewish state actually helps Israel’s enemies:

New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides say want and need. And it exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit. It undermines America’s unique ability to play a role – an essential role – in the peace process.

So has the administration changed its feelings about daylight? Perhaps, but one observer noted,Clinton really was just turning the phrase around, She was saying that the U.S. doesn’t want any daylight, but if there is, it’s up to Israel to close the gap.

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