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Clinton Sympathizes With Palestinians In Confirmation Hearing

First Posted: 02/13/09 05:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:00 PM ET

Clinton

Hillary Clinton sent a message to Israel Tuesday during her Secretary of State confirmation hearing testimony, telling the Foreign Relations Committee that because of the conflict in Gaza "we have ...been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians."

Mainstream American politicians are famously reluctant to utter the words "suffering" and "Palestinian" in the same sentence. By breaking from that tradition, Clinton appeared to send a signal to Israel that that it would not have a free hand to operate in the Middle East.

President-elect Barack Obama found out the hard way early in the campaign what heat can come to a candidate who expresses sympathy for Palestinian suffering. He was quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying that "[n]obody is suffering more than the Palestinian people." The report said that Obama considered the suffering "a result of stalled peace efforts with Israel."

Asked later in a debate about the remark, he backpedaled. "Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said. And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region," Obama explained.

Clinton went on to say that the current crisis "must only increase our determination" to seek a two-state solution.

"The President-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas by rockets. However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians," Clinton said. "This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasing peace agreement that brings real security to Israel; normal and positive relationships with its neighbors; and independence, economic progress, and security to the Palestinians in their own state."

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