Bill Clinton had some harsh words for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday. According to Clinton, it's Netanyahu's fault there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
"The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn't seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu. They wanted to believe they had a partner for peace in a Palestinian government, and there's no question -- and the Netanyahu government has said -- that this is the finest Palestinian government they've ever had in the West Bank," Clinton said during a roundtable with bloggers during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
"[Palestinian leaders] have explicitly said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before -- my deal -- that they would take it," he added, referring to the 2000 Camp David deal that Yasser Arafat rejected.
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"For reasons that even after all these years I still don't know for sure, Arafat turned down the deal I put together that Barak accepted," he said. "But they also had an Israeli government that was willing to give them East Jerusalem as the capital of the new state of Palestine."
Israel also wants a normalization of relations with its Arab neighbors to accompany a peace deal. Clinton said that the Saudi-inspired Arab Peace Initiative put forth in 2002 represented an answer to that Israeli demand.
Clinton affirmed that the United States should veto the Palestinian resolution at the U.N. Security Council for member-state status, because the Israelis need security guarantees before agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state. But the Netanyahu government has moved away from the consensus for peace, making a final status agreement more difficult, Clinton said.
"That's what happened. Every American needs to know this. That's how we got to where we are," Clinton said. "The real cynics believe that the Netanyahu's government's continued call for negotiations over borders and such means that he's just not going to give up the West Bank."
This could be the start of a new narrative. Barack Obama made it clear in his speech to the U.N. this week that a Palestinian state can only be achieved after the Israelis and Palestinians negotiation peace. But with the prospect of peace increasingly fading, blame will have to be placed somewhere.
And now we now where Clinton will cast it.