The incompetence of American diplomacy reached a new nadir yesterday in an incident vershadowed by the elections in the US. Hillary Clinton told Al-Jazeera in an interview that the US wants to see an Israeli capital in East Jerusalem. Apparently, the chief diplomat of the United States and the woman who ran on her experience in foreign affairs did not remember that East Jerusalem is primarily Palestinian:
Egypt and other Arab nations reacted with strong concern to remarks Clinton made in Jerusalem on Saturday. She caused a stir when she said with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at her side that his government’s offer to restrain — but not stop — settlement activity in Palestinian areas was unprecedented.
And in a new twist Tuesday, Clinton made what appeared to be an inadvertent slip of the tongue in a television interview with the al-Jazeera network, referring to the goal of “an Israeli capital in east Jerusalem.”
It has not been U.S. policy to favor including east Jerusalem in an Israeli capital; the Palestinians claim it as their capital, and the issue is one of the most important and delicate points that would have to be settled in any final peace deal between the two parties.
Two Clinton aides monitoring the interview alerted her to the mistake and that portion of the interview was retaped so she could correct herself.
Anyone who has bothered to read the newspapers on Israel knows that East Jerusalem is part of the disputed territory. While American Presidents have talked for decades about Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, not one has insisted on East Jerusalem. It’s so incompetent that one has to wonder if Hillary has any real understanding of the conflict at all.
There are some who think that Hillary could disconnect herself from a bumbling Obama administration and make a credible run at the Democratic nomination in 2012. Unfortunately, Hillary herself has been a large part of the bumbling of this White House. She has been an embarrassment on the world stage, with the “reset” button for Russia that was mistranslated, and written in Latin characters rather than Cyrillic, intended as a stunt to insult the outgoing Bush administration. There was also Hillary’s highly undiplomatic opinion offered publicly that European democracy was incomprehensible, as well as a Johnny-come-lately compared to the US, which shows an ignorance of history as well as diplomacy.
Just another example of “smart power.”