(JTA) – Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose complex dealings with Israel date back to her days as first lady of Arkansas, announced her second bid for the White House.
Clinton’s announcement Sunday made headlines in Israel, with newspapers running front-page chronologies of her relations with the country dating back to the 1980s, when as the first lady of Arkansas she introduced an Israeli literacy program to the state, through her years in the White House as first lady, U.S. senator from New York and U.S. secretary of state.
The chronologies included low points, such as her embrace in 1998 of Suha Arafat after the Palestinian leader’s wife claimed in remarks that Israel was deliberately poisoning Palestinian children, and high points like Clinton’s endorsement of Israel’s security barrier while she was a senator.
Also highlighted was her endorsement of the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, albeit with caveats suggesting that she was more skeptical of the Iranian regime than the president.
Clinton entered the 2016 presidential race on Sunday afternoon with a two-minute video posted on her campaign website and on YouTube. She is seen as the prohibitive favourite to win the Democratic nomination.
The video abjured foreign policy and dealt mostly with Americans facing tough economic times and the aspirations of middle-class Americans.
“Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” Clinton said at the end of the video. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Clinton, who served as secretary of state under President Barack Obama in his first term, will soon head to Iowa and New Hampshire, the sites of the first primaries. While serving as a senator from 2001 to 2009, she lost the Democratic nomination to Obama in 2008.
In December, during the Saban Forum in Washington – an annual forum of Israeli and American leaders – Clinton endorsed Obama’s positions on talks with Iran and a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Nobody can argue with the commitment of this administration to Israel’s security,” she said at the forum.
In a late March conversation with Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Clinton said that the relationship between the United States and Israel should return to a “constructive footing.” The ties have frayed of late over the nuclear framework agreement signed by world powers, including the U.S., and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress deriding Obama’s policy on Iran.
“Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” Hoenlein said in a statement regarding the conversation.
“We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue,” he also said, citing Clinton.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, was president from 1993 to 2001.