Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Human Rights Day & U.S. Hypocrisy

December 14, 2010

Defensive America’s Contempt for Full Court, Press

by Nima Shirazi, Foreign Policy Journal, December 14, 2010

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide

“WikiLeaks has shown there is an America in civics textbooks and an America that functions differently in the real world.” – James Moore

Sixty-two years ago, on December 10, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration, to which the United States is undoubtedly beholden, affirms:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Well, except for WikiLeaks, of course.

Internet giant Amazon.com, which hosted the whistle-blowing website, dropped WikiLeaks last week, “only 24 hours after being contacted by the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security.” Lieberman’s call for censorship was also heeded by the Seattle-based software company, Tableau, which was hosting some informational, interactive charts linked to by WikiLeaks. These graphics contained absolutely no confidential material whatsoever and merely provided data regarding where the leaked cables originated and in what years they had been written. Nevertheless, for fear of government retribution, Tableau removed the charts, explaining,

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal have all since followed suit.

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Obama’s Israel Policy: Speak softly and carry a very big carrot

December 6, 2010

by Maidhc Ó Cathail, Foreign Policy Journal, December 4, 2010

Even those familiar with the long and shameful history of America’s appeasement of Israel were taken aback by the Obama administration’s extraordinary offer to Netanyahu.

In exchange for a paltry one-off 90 day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel will get 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion and a slew of other goodies. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly gave up to eight hours with Netanyahu trying to persuade him to accept “one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power.” Praising the Israeli Prime Minister for eventually agreeing to put the offer to his security cabinet, President Obama took it as “a signal that he is serious.”

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Turning Back From the Point of No Return – Implications of the Threat to Bomb Iran

August 26, 2010
Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, August 26, 2010

The drums for war on Iran have been banging louder than ever lately, with a spate of articles by political commentators either directly encouraging the bombing of the Islamic Republic or otherwise offering a narrative in which this is effectively portrayed as the only option to prevent Iran from waging a nuclear holocaust against Israel. A prominent example of the latter is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article last month in the Atlantic magazine, “The Point of No Return”.[1] Goldberg’s lengthy piece essentially boils down to this: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to Israel’s existence comparable to the Nazi Holocaust, and although the U.S. recognizes this threat, the Obama administration is weak, so Israel will have no choice but to act alone in bombing Iran to ensure its own survival.

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It’s Obama’s Empire Now

July 16, 2010

Karzai and Obama
White House / Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meet in an arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 28.

By Stanley Kutler, truthdig.com, July 13, 2010

The American Empire is alive and well—and as expansive as ever. We have established more than 700 military bases across the world, largely encircling the peripheries of Russia and China, which are now central to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Cold War in the aftermath of World War II drove the expansion as we searched for security—and markets, to be sure.

Perhaps we now are the largest imperial power the world ever has known. Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan trivializes the once-massive naval and air facility at Cam Ranh Bay during the Vietnam War, and we have developed “permanent” mega-bases in Iraq. We engage in denial, and euphemisms abound. Stumping for the colonial takeover of the Philippines in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt, so fashionable today, insisted that “there is not an imperialist in the country. … Expansion? Yes. … Expansion has been the law of our national growth.” Chalmers Johnson reminds us of Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s liberal “idealist imperialism,” which would make the world safe for democracy. (See Johnson’s “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic” and other works.) Deceit comes from the top.

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Rupert Cornwell: Obama won’t restrain Israel – he can’t

March 18, 2010

Rupert Cornwell, The Independet/UK, March 18, 2010

All you can say is, we’ve been here before. “Who the **** does he think he is? Who’s the ******* superpower here?” Bill Clinton spluttered in fury to his aides back in 1996. The “he” in question was Benjamin Netanyahu, then as now the Prime Minister of Israel.

Barack Obama, a cooler character than the last Democrat to be president, may not have used quite such salty language about the behaviour of the current Netanyahu government that has so incensed the US. One thing though may safely be predicted. Mr Netanyahu will get away with it.

More than a week on, the in-your-face effrontery of the announcement that a new swathe of Israeli homes will be built in disputed East Jerusalem still amazes. Not only was it another pre-emptive strike on one of the toughest issues to be resolved in the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to which even Mr Netanyahu pays lip service. It came just 24 hours after painstaking diplomatic efforts by Washington had secured agreement on “proximity talks” in which both sides agreed to talk to each other, albeit indirectly. The fate of even these modest contacts are now in the balance.

And it came at the very moment that Vice-President Joe Biden – a true friend of Israel if ever there was one – was in the country promising America’s “absolute, total and unvarnished” commitment to Israel’s security. Mr Netanhayu maintains he was blindsided by the announcement. But close friends don’t treat a superpower protector like that.

Worse still, Mr Netanyahu raised his two fingers just when there was an opportunity to move the tectonic plates of the Middle East crisis. Israel and the moderate Arab states are united in their fear of a nuclear-armed Iran bestriding the region. Serious progress on the Palestinian dispute would not only remove the biggest obstacle dividing them; it would also blunt Iran’s most potent appeal to the region’s Islamic population, as the one champion Palestinian rights that dared stand up to the Israeli and American oppressors.

Now that opportunity has all but vanished. For the Palestinians and other Arabs, Israel’s move has confirmed what they suspected all along, that the Jewish state – at least under its present management – is concerned not with concessions, even symbolic ones, but with creating facts on the ground. Mr Netanyahu however believes he can call Mr Obama’s bluff and ride out the storm. The plan to build 1,600 settlements, he says, will go ahead, whatever Washington’s demands to the contrary. And on all counts, he’s probably right.

And the reasons for such confidence? The first is his calculation that for Washington, whatever its anger at Israel’s behaviour, the need for strategic co-operation with its closest ally in the Middle East against the Iranian nuclear threat will trump its concern for the Palestinians – even if the two issues are connected. The second is his confidence that the President will never ultimately defy the mighty pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Mr Obama is more sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians than any recent president. In his Cairo speech last June, he spoke movingly of the daily humiliations faced by a people living under occupation: the situation for the Palestinian people, he said, was “intolerable.” He followed up by demanding a total freeze on settlements, as proof the Israelis were serious about a peace deal.

But Mr Netanyahu said no, and the Obama administration, essentially folded. It was forced to content itself with a limited and partial freeze, from which East Jerusalem was excluded. When Hillary Clinton praised this modest step as “unprecedented,” disappointed Palestinians and Arabs concluded that for all the fine words in Cairo, it was business as usual in Washington. When push came to shove, the proclaimed “honest broker” tilted invariably and irretrievably in favour of the Israelis.

Mr Obama’s defenders now say that if he misplayed his hand, it was because he had too much on his plate, obliged to corral up crucial healthcare votes one moment, plot the future of the US banking system the next, and then make a flawless move in the three-dimensional chess game that is Middle East policy. In fact, his greatest error was not to think through the clout of America’s pro-Israel lobby.

When the university professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007, some intitial reaction was scornful. Critics dismissed the book’s thesis as exaggeration at best, sheer fantasy at worst. There was no sinister lobby, only the instinctive collective sympathy felt towards Israel by ordinary Americans.

But power lies in the perception of power, and no organisation in Washington is perceived to wield more power than AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. For proof, look no further than January 2009, when most of the rest of the world was horrified at the Israeli offensive in Gaza. At that moment the US House of Representatives, by a vote of 390 to five, chose to blame the entire crisis on Hamas.

Now the lobby is working to defuse the present row, naturally on Israel’s terms. First AIPAC expressed its “serious concern” at events, reminding (or perhaps warning) of the “vast bipartisan support in Congress and the American people” for the US/Israeli relationship. Then the Israeli ambassador here issued a statement claiming he had been “flagrantly misquoted” in reports saying he had warned his staff of the worst crisis in 35 years between the two countries. By Tuesday evening Ms Clinton herself, who last week was accusing Mr Netanhayu of insulting the US, poured further oil on the already quietening waters: “I don’t buy the notion of a crisis.”

And there we have it. The settlements in East Jerusalem will go ahead whatever the US thinks. The proximity talks, even if they do proceed, are doomed in advance. And next week AIPAC holds here what it bills as the largest policy conference in its history. The Israeli Prime Minister will be in town to address it, so will Ms Clinton.

President Obama however will be about as far away as possible, on a long-planned visit to Indonesia and Australia. And probably just as well. Grovels, even the most elegant grovels, are not an edifying spectacle.

r.cornwell@independent.co.uk

©independent.co.uk

Accusing Iran; Ignoring History

March 1, 2010

By Ted Snider, ZNet,  Feb 26. 2010

Ted Snider’s ZSpace Page

Did Hillary Clinton seriously just accuse Iran of heading toward becoming a dictatorship? This accusation is one of two made in the past couple of weeks against Iran that totally defy history.

The U.S. has never minded Iran being a dictatorship. On the contrary, given the choice between an uncooperative democracy and a cooperative dictatorship in Iran, the U.S. chose dictatorship.

This story of intrigue and spies begins not in America, but in Britain. Through its Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), Britain totally controlled Iranian oil in the first half of the twentieth century. The AIOC held exclusive rights to extract, refine, ship and sell Iranian oil. And though they did pay Iran a small amount for these rights, the AIOC made ten times what it paid Iran. Hardly fair. At least, it hardly seemed fair to the impoverished Iranians.

So in 1951, Mohammad Mosaddeq surged to power in Iran propelled by a wave of Iranian nationalism determined to recapture their oil so that the profits could be used for the benefit, not of the British people and the British navy, but of the Iranian people. Mosaddeq was enormously popular, a genuine democrat and nationalist and the first democratically elected leader of Iran. Here was a chance to foster democracy in Iran.

But democracy meant losing control of Iran’s oil. Mosaddeq immediately started trying to nationalize Iran’s oil. In April 1951, the Iranian parliament nationalized the oil industry. In May, Mosaddeq was elected Prime Minister and signed the bill into law. Britain responded by clamping a crushing embargo on Iran. The AIOC led an international boycott of the new Iranian oil industry. Then Britain began diplomatic and covert actions against Mosaddeq. But Mosaddeq was wildly popular and the people supported his moves. According to the U.S. State Department, he had the support of a full 95-98% of Iranians. He easily won a huge referendum victory.

So Britain tried to overthrow him. They failed. Miserably. Mosaddeq responded by shutting down the British embassy in Iran, and when all the diplomats were purged, all the spies were flushed out with them. England had no one in Iran to overthrow the Prime Minister.

Enter America. But not yet. Britain turned to America. But though Truman had been willing to drop a nuclear bomb on Japanese citizens, he was not willing to use the CIA to overthrow a foreign government. The CIA was brand new, and for Truman, it was for intelligence gathering and not for government overthrowing. But in 1952, when the Republican Eisenhower came to power, everything changed. Eisenhower was willing, and he agreed to do Britain’s dirty work. And in an incredible story of intrigue, Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, would take the helm of Operation Ajax, and in August of 1953, in the very first CIA coup, the American advised Iranian military, completed the CIA and M16 inspired and organized coup and overthrew Mohammad Mosaddeq.

With that America ended a flowering and promising period of Iranian democracy because it threatened their interests and reinstalled the Shah of Iran who would carry out his many years of savage and repressive dictatorship. The Shah would repress opposition media, political parties, unions and other groups. He would bring in SAVAK, that most notorious and murderous secret police and their hellish torture chambers. With the Shah now in power, for their share of the dirty work, the U.S. acquired 40% of Iran’s oil industry. AIOC, now renamed British Petroleum, got back 40% of Iran’s oil.

And this dance with dictatorship was no short term blip. After Eisenhower, Nixon would ally America with the Shah, Ford received him in the White House, and even Jimmy Carter said Iran “blossomed” under his “enlightened leadership”.

So when Iran began a promising experiment in democracy, the U.S. took it out because it threatened U.S. interests and put in a brutal dictatorship, for which Iran has never forgiven America, showing that it is cooperating with U.S. interests and not being democratic that wins U.S. support. So when Clinton accuses Iran of becoming a dictatorship, Iranians, and anyone who agrees not to ignore history, laugh. Iranians wanted democracy; America gave them a dictator.

But Iran is not only rushing headlong into dictatorship, it is also hurtling inexorably towards becoming a nuclear state with weapons of mass destruction. Iran recently announced that it would begin enriching uranium not only to 3.5%, as it has up to now, but up to 19.5%. The western world screams hysterically and points to the proof that Iran is rejecting proposals for trading their low-enriched uranium for 19.5% uranium processed abroad and that it is placing itself dangerously and inevitably within striking distance of being able to enrich weapons grade uranium.

Like the claim about Iranian dictatorship, this claim utterly ignores history: albeit much more recent history.

First of all, let’s get the numbers straight. Uranium enriched to 3.5% is what Iran needs to run its power reactors to produce energy. 19.5% enriched uranium is what it needs to produce medical isotopes for treating and imaging cancer in its hospitals. Uranium for nuclear weapons has to be enriched to 90%: hardly placing Iran within striking distance or proving that it has a weapons program.

In fact, Iran is running out of uranium enriched to 19.5% for cancer treatment in its hospitals and soon will have to shut its medical reactors down. Why is it running out? In 1988, Iran signed an agreement with Argentina to receive 23 kilograms of fuel enriched to 20% so that it could produce medical isotopes in its, ironically, U.S. built medical research reactor. That 23 kilograms is nearly used up. Iran requested that the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) help it purchase more under IAEA supervision, which it has every right to do, like every other country who is signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the U.S. and Europe stepped in and prevented the purchase, leaving Iran without the ability the rest of the modern world has to use nuclear fuel to treat cancer.

So if Iran is enriching uranium to 19.5% instead of 3.5%, it is only because we forced her to: ironic, since we are supposedly trying to prevent just that. And far from being evidence of a massive weapons program, Iran is only hoping to enrich 40 kilograms for medical use. Could it continue to enrich that 19.5% uranium to 90% weapons grade uranium? Is that the concern? Forget about it. Scott Ritter, who was a top U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, one of the only loud public voices to contradict the Bush White House and warn that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the author of a book on Iranian nuclear showdown, says that the IAEA can account for all of Iran’s nuclear material and would be able to detect any diversion of nuclear material.

And there have been other opportunities to prevent Iran from further enriching uranium for medical purposes. Though prevent is perhaps too strong a word, since they only seem reluctantly to be enriching after their preferred choice of legally purchasing was prevented. In 2009, the U.S. proposed a nuclear swap in which Iran would send its 3.5% enriched uranium out of the country where it would be enriched into fuel rods for the medical reactor and sent back to Iran. Iran agreed in principal, again showing their lack of desire to further enrich uranium, but did not agree on the details. Why did Iran reject the details, but not the point of the plan? Because the U.S. was being disingenuous: it was a trick.

According to both Scott Ritter and Gareth Porter, whose reports on Iran’s nuclear program have been invaluable, the real objective of the American swap plan was to get every bit of the 3.5% enriched uranium out of Iran to buy the U.S. several months, or even a year. And there was another problem from Iran’s perspective. The American plan called for Iran to send away all its 3.5% uranium immediately even though it would take a year, or even several years, to receive the 19.5% enriched uranium needed for its medical reactor. That would not only leave Iran without its 3.5% enriched uranium needed to force the Americans to take Iran seriously in negotiations, but it would defy the point of the whole plan: leaving Iran without medical isotopes and forcing its medical facility to shut down. So Iran made a counterproposal. They would send out their 3.5% uranium in batches, and when the enriched uranium for medical isotopes was returned, they would send out the next batch: a so-called “simultaneous exchange”. America ignored Iran’s counterproposal. It was only then that Iran declared that it would try to enrich its own uranium.

So the claim that Iran’s intention to further enrich uranium to 19.5% is proof of its intention to pursue a nuclear weapons program ignores two important pieces of recent history: that Iran first tried to purchase it and then agreed in principal to a fair swap for it. It was not Iran’s intent to further enrich uranium: it was the last resort. And there is a third piece of recent history that the nuclear accusation ignores: the lack, as in Iraq, of any evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Not only the U.N.’s nuclear inspectors say that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, all of the several American intelligence organizations have unanimously agreed, not once, but twice, in uncommon public declarations that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Each sensational story of proof to the contrary that keeps glittering in the headlines of the western media has been clearly and consistently refuted, as shown by the reports of people like Porter and Ritter. It is the reports and not the refutations, though, that make the headlines. And that’s an old and effective trick for misshaping public opinion: report the error in large letters, but not the correction that follows.

The media and the political powers provide the erroneous accusations; history, if you listen to it, provides the corrections.

The United States, Iran, and the Nuclear Hypocrisy

February 22, 2010

by Marco Rosaire Rossi, CommonDreams.org, Feb 22, 2010

On Sunday, February 14th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-speaking at the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar-lambasted Iran for its continual development of its nuclear power program. Clinton accused Iran of “consistently (failing) to live up to its responsibilities.” According to Clinton “It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.” The evidence sighted by Clinton of Iran’s callousness toward international laws and the United Nations system is Iran’s own action. The only reason Iran would establish a nuclear energy program, it is claimed, is to eventually use it to develop weapons and attack other nations. Therefore, any development of nuclear energy is ipso de facto a threat to security and assault on world peace.

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Behind Clinton’s tough talk on Iran

February 21, 2010

The goal of Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric seems to be to promote conflict and convince Americans Iran is a threat to their security

Mark Weisbrot, The Guardian/UK, Feb 18, 2020

In a visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week, Hillary Clinton said that Iran “is moving toward a military dictatorship,” and continued the Administration’s campaign for tougher sanctions against that country.

What could America’s top diplomat hope to accomplish with this kind of inflammatory rhetoric? It seems unlikely that the goal was to support human rights in Iran. Because of the United States’ history in Iran and in the region, it tends to give legitimacy to repression. The more that any opposition can be linked to the United States’ actions, words, or support, the harder time they will have.

Second, it is tough for anyone – especially in the region – to believe that the United States is really concerned about human rights abuses. In addition to supporting Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza, Washington has been remarkably quiet as the most important opposition leaders in Egypt were arrested as part of the government’s preparations for October elections. Amnesty International stated that the arrestees were “prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their peaceful political activities.”

So what is the purpose of a speech like this? The most obvious conclusion is that it is to promote conflict, and to convince Americans that Iran is an actual threat to their security. Americans generally have to be prepared and persuaded for years if they are to accept that they must go to war. The groundwork for the Iraq war was laid during the Clinton presidency. President Clinton imposed sanctions on the country that devastated the civilian population, carried out bombings, and publicly declared that Washington’s intention was to overthrow the government. Although, as we now know, Iraq never posed any significant security threat to the United States, President Clinton spent years trying to convince Americans that it did.

President Bush picked up where President Clinton left off; and President Clinton publicly supported his campaign for the war. So did Hillary, and she defended her decision in 2008 even as it looked like it might cost her the Presidency.

President Obama is unlikely to start a war with Iran – which would likely begin as an air war, not a ground war – not least because he already has two wars to deal with. But, as in the case of the Iraq war, his Secretary of State is preparing the ground for the next president that may have a stronger desire or better opportunity to do so. There is a strong faction of our foreign policy establishment that believes it has the right and obligation to bomb Iran in order to curtail its nuclear program, and they have a long-term strategy.

The public relations campaign is working. A new Gallup poll finds that 61 percent of Americans see Iran as “as a critical threat to U.S. vital interests,” with an additional 29 percent believing that it is “an important threat.” It is not clear why anyone would believe this; even if Iran did obtain a nuclear weapon, which is still a ways off, they would not have the capacity to deliver it as far as the United States. Nor is it likely that they would want to commit national suicide, any more than a number of other countries that currently have nuclear weapons.

The Obama team’s messaging is not nearly so successful with regard to the issues that the vast majority of the electorate will base their votes on in this years elections: the most recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll (Feb. 4-8) finds that 53 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy.

For the immediate future, foreign policy concerns will likely rank low, far behind the economy, for the electorate. But the Obama team’s foreign policy will hurt Democrats in the future. If I believed what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership are telling me, I would have to consider voting Republican. If it’s really true that all these people just want to kill us for no reason; that it has nothing to do with our foreign policy or wars; that we can effectively reduce terrorism by bombing and occupying Muslim countries; and that terrorism is the country’s most urgent security threat – then why not vote for the party that looks tougher? This will inevitably come back to haunt the Democratic Party, as it did in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

Meanwhile, U.S. military spending  — by the Congressional Budget Office’s relatively narrow definition of the Department of Defense budget – reached 5.6 percent of GDP in 2009. Just before September 11, 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected this spending for 2009 at 2.4 percent of GDP.

The difference, over 10 years, is more than four times the ten-year cost of proposed health care reform.

This column was published by The Guardian Unlimited on February 18, 2010.

Barack Obama and the Failure of the Peace Process

November 15, 2009

Stella Dallas, Dissident Voice, Nov. 14, 2009

Among the most prominent of President Obama’s hope-based initiatives was his promise to re-frame America’s approach to the conflict in Palestine, epitomized in his June 2007 speech in Cairo, where Obama called for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims”, a new dawn based on equality and mutual respect rather than the vestiges of a “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities” to Muslim majorities held prisoner to proxy regimes without regard to the legitimate aspirations of their people. The speech was welcomed by tens of millions of people all over the world willing to believe, despite mountains of historical evidence to the contrary, that America had finally resolved to remake itself as a facilitator rather than an obstacle to justice for the occupied and abused people of Palestine, and by implication, for the poor and dispossessed throughout the Muslim world.

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US drops demand for Israeli settlement freeze

November 1, 2009
US credibility in the Arab world has suffered a serious setback after Hillary Clinton dropped demands for a halt to Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank
By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem, Telegraph/UK, Nov. 1, 2009

 

Hillary Clinton dropped demands for a halt to Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank

 

Hillary Clinton dropped demands for a halt to Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank Photo: AFP

Signalling an end to the brief flirtation with the Palestinian cause, the US secretary of state flew to Jerusalem to voice full American support for Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an effort to repair badly strained US-Israeli relations, she heaped praise on Mr Netanyahu, lauding his offer to limit settlement construction – even though it falls well short of President Obama’s original demands.

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