Reaction to Hillary Clinton’s speech Wednesday has started to come in, with positive reaction from both sides of the political spectrum on Israel.
The Orthodox Union, which yesterday released a statement saying it was "deeply troubled" by Obama’s "evenhanded" approach on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, said it felt the secretary’s speech was a "step in a better direction":
Secretary Clinton closed this section of her speech saying:
"You can’t claim to be sending messages of peace until you also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict."
This is a framing which friends of Israel should particularly welcome. It is the Palestinian/Arab side which continues to foster anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and more in their schools and media, and continues to deny the basic legitimacy of Israel to exist (in contrast to Israel which has said and acted time and again to recognize and potentially realize the rights of Palestinians).
Even while noting the disagreement over Israeli settlements, this is an essential way to frame the issue along the lines of what my organization called for in our post Obama meeting statement yesterday – not morally vapid "evenhandedness", but accurate assessment of the obligations.
Americans for Peace Now also praised Clinton’s outline of everyone’s obligations, but leads with praise for Clinton’s reiteration of previous calls for a settlement freeze:
Americans for Peace Now (APN) today joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for Israel to take action to stop settlement construction in the West Bank. APN praised Clinton for demanding that the Palestinians and the Arab governments take parallel action to support efforts for comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
“Secretary Clinton is right that a settlement freeze is a necessary catalyst for serious and successful peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” said APN’s president and CEO, Debra DeLee. “Palestinians must keep their part of the deal and stop violence and incitement to violence. Arab states must do more to make peace a reality,” DeLee said. “If each side rises to the occasion to create the atmosphere conducive to serious negotiations – without conditions and excuses – then Israelis and their neighbors could at last see the horizon of peace and security that they so deserve.”
And J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami notes Clinton’s call for action from "all sides":
We applaud Secretary Clinton’s statement that “ending the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict requires action on all sides.” The Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Arab states all have obligations to fulfill – including a complete settlement freeze on Israel’s part, the Palestinian commitments to provide security and end incitement to violence, and moves toward normalization of relations with Israel by the Arab states.
We also stand in support of the administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear program and its support for terrorism. By no means is this engagement guaranteed to succeed, nor should it remain open-ended – but we cannot and should not miss the opportunity to find a diplomatic solution to our differences with Iran.