Former President Bill Clinton said that he went to great lengths to secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians while he was in office, but that the Palestinians rejected the offer.
“I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state. I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza, … between 96 and 97 percent of the West Bank, compensating land in Israel, you name it,” Clinton said at a campaign event for his wife, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, in New Jersey on Friday. His comments came in response to heckling by an audience member over his wife’s position on Israel.
Clinton added that civilian fatalities in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas resulted from the terror group’s practice of embedding its weapons and fighters in residential areas.
“[Hamas] is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart,” Clinton said to applause.
The former president also acknowledged that Hamas had been engaged in the tactic of forcing Israel to choose between “defending themselves or killing innocents” for “a long time.” He further emphasized that there will not be peace in the Middle East unless Israel knows that the United States will continue to support it. “[We] can’t get anything done unless [Israel believes], when the chips are down, if somebody comes for them we will not let them be wiped out and become part of the dustbin of history,” he said.
Shortly after the conclusion of his presidency, Clinton assigned the blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit squarely on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. When Arafat called Clinton a great man, Clinton responded, “The hell I am.”
“I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one,” he added, explaining that Arafat rejected “the best peace deal he was ever going to get” by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Palestinian leaders have consistently struck down offers for peace with Israel over the ensuing 16 years. Current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an American initiative offered by Vice President Joe Biden in March after previously scuttling American-sponsored negotiations two years ago.
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