In speeches before the annual Washington policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) March 22, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took barely veiled stabs at each other. “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today,” Netanyahu told 7,500 cheering delegates. “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” His remarks received a standing ovation—but also denunciations from a few protesters whose shouts were quickly drowned out by the AIPAC delegates.
Speaking to the confab earlier that evening, Clinton urged Israel to make “difficult but necessary choices” for peace, and said the planned construction of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem “undermines mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides want and need.” But she added that this is not “a judgment on the final status of Jerusalem, which is an issue to be settled at the negotiating table.” And she of course said that US support for Israel is “rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.” (JTA, Channel New Asia, March 23)