NEW YORK (JTA) — If the Israelis and Palestinians cut a peace deal, Syria likely would ally itself with the West over Iran, and Lebanon would be truly independent, Bill Clinton said.
The former president also warned that Israel will need friends in the region for a future when attacks from Gaza are conducted not with crude, inaccurate rockets but with rockets that inevitably will make use of technological advances to stage GPS-like precision attacks.
Clinton spoke at a memorial service in New York on Thursday aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid commemorating the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The late prime minister recognized early on that demographics in the Holy Land made a Palestinian state necessary to preserve Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, Clinton said.
Calling the day Rabin was shot "one of the saddest days of my life," Clinton also shared personal remembrances of Rabin, who was killed on the night of Nov. 4, 1995 after a peace rally in Tel Aviv.
Clinton said he thinks of Rabin all the time, including five minutes before he walked down the aisle at the wedding of his daughter, Chelsea, to Marc Mezvinsky, her longtime Jewish boyfriend. Clinton said he imagined having a conversation with Rabin, who would have said Clinton finally got something right by having his daughter marry a Jewish guy.
Recalling the moments before the famous White House lawn handshake in 1993 between Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Clinton quoted Rabin as saying, "I’ll shake his hand as long as I don’t have to kiss him."