President Obama’s more Left-leaning staffers on the Israel-Palestine conflict have been fighting a battle to get the outgoing President to leave a set of “parameters” behind: his vision of what an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would look like. They hope that these parameters could be enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution, theoretically committing future U.S. presidents to negotiate within the Obama framework.
There was always something delusional about this thinking, and using the UN to make end runs around the normal U.S. policy process is a shortsighted approach that will only weaken the United Nations. But in her meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu today, Secretary Clinton made clear that she disagrees with this approach. Haaretz:
In the meeting, Clinton stressed “her opposition to any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “including by the UN Security Council,” according to a statement released by her campaign. She further reaffirmed her commitment to a two-state solution negotiated directly by the parties.
What that means is that regardless of what resolutions the Obama team might try to get through the Security Council, Clinton will promote direct negotiations between the two sides—and that she won’t try to force the Israelis to accept any Obama parameters as a basis for negotiations. It was very tactfully done; the Clinton campaign wants and needs all the help it can get from Obama in a tight campaign. Still, it’s a crystal clear statement that as far as Secretary Clinton is concerned, the Obama presidency ends on January 20. She is not interested in having her predecessor tie her hands.
At the moment, one of the few things that Clinton and Trump agree on is that they want better relations with Israel. Returning from his visit to the UN with high profile, amiable meetings with the two leading presidential candidates—as well as the largest aid package in Israel’s history from Obama himself—Netanyahu will have a convincing story to tell the critics in Israel who accuse him of wrecking relations with the United States. As the Obama era drifts slowly to its end, U.S.-Israel relations, for now, appear to on the upswing no matter which party wins the White House in November.