Clinton Denies Bush Agreement With Israel on Settlements

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 7, 2009 8:31am

In her first Sunday show interview as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton argued there is no “official record” of any agreement between Bush administration officials and Israel on exceptions to a settlement “freeze” in the West Bank.


Senior Israeli officials have accused Obama of failing to acknowledge their understanding with the Bush administration that included an exception for the “natural growth” of families already there. Former Bush official Elliott Abrams made similar claims in the Washington Post.


“That was an understanding that was entered into so far as we are told, orally. That was never made a part of the official record of the negotiations, as it was passed on to our administration. No one in the Bush administration said to anyone that we can find in our administration,” Clinton told me in an exclusive Sunday show interview for “This Week.”


“Nobody in a position of authority at the time that the Obama administration came into office said anything about it. And in fact, there is also a record that President Bush contradicted even that oral agreement,” she said. 


Clinton Reminds Israel of “Road Map” Commitment


I asked Clinton about pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has argued a complete freeze is “unreasonable,” reportedly grousing privately of Obama and Clinton,”What the hell do they want from me?”


Echoing comments made by President Barack Obama this week, Clinton denied that Obama was trying to bring down Netanyahu’s government, adding, “We are setting forth our views. obviously decisions about how to go forward are up to the Israelis and the Palestinians. But I think it is an appropriate role for the United States, and certainly it is what the president has decided, to make clear some of the obstacles he sees.”


“The fact is that the road map which was agreed to officially, adopted by the Israeli government said something very clear about settlements. So, I think that what the president is doing is saying, look, everybody should comply with the obligations you’ve already committed to. And for the Palestinians, let’s not forget. They must end incitement against Israel. They must demonstrate an ability to provide security,” she said.


–George Stephanopoulos

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