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Clinton Distances Herself from Obama on Israel, Assails Palestinian Incitement

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blasted Palestinian incitement and the anti-Israel boycott campaign during a speech laying out her vision of American foreign policy in the Middle East on Monday.

Speaking at the AIPAC policy conference, Clinton emphasized the importance of America’s “indispensable” alliance with Israel in the fight against “turmoil” in the Middle East. She also argued that the United States could not walk away from the region, nor “outsource Middle East security to dictators.” While this criticism was directed at “candidates,” it also served to distance her from President Barack Obama, whose administration oversaw growing rapprochement with Iran. In an interview at the end 2014, Obama spoke of his hope that Iran would become a “successful regional power.”

Clinton added that she would “never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us,” an apparent reference to Obama’s 2009 declaration that it wasn’t good for there to be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. Towards that end, Clinton mentioned that when differences emerged between the two nations, they would be resolved “quickly and respectfully.”

In a more direct criticism, Clinton stressed that while she supported the nuclear agreement with Iran, it had to have “vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region.” There are no consequences for Iranian violations spelled out in the deal. “We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen,” she added.

Clinton further noted that she would “vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D – Nev.) said last year that Obama refused to promise to veto any Security Council attempts to unilaterally create a Palestinian state.

While Clinton laid out her vision for “a negotiated settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians that would lead to “two states for two peoples,” she also declared to loud applause that “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.”

Clinton similarly repudiated the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, saying, “we have to be united in fighting back against BDS,” particularly “at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe.”

Clinton’s AIPAC speech marks the Democratic front-runner’s latest effort to distance herself from her former boss on Middle East policy, specifically in regards to Israel. In her comments on Monday, she repeated a promise that she made last November to invite the Israeli prime minister to Washington during her first month in office. She also spoke about the importance of the U.S. and Israel joining together not only to “cut off the flow of arms from Iran to Hezbollah,” but also “to stand together against the threat from ISIS and other radical jihadists.” The speech echoes an address she gave in December, during which she called Israel an “essential” partner in America’s fight against Iran’s regional ambitions.

Clinton’s complete AIPAC speech is embedded below.

[Photo: AIPAC / YouTube]