Both Haaretz and the New York Post report today that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sent several “angry messages” to Israel in the past week complaining about the flow of goods and services to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. While Israel has never, even during the worst of the fighting, announced it wanted to shut off all aid to Gaza, it has quite reasonably demanded that if the Islamist rulers of this area want aid and other materials to flow, they must agree to a long-term cease-fire and release Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped in a cross-border raid in the summer of 2006.
The Israelis have attempted to ransom Shalit by releasing a host of Palestinian terrorists, but they don’t think the question of Shalit can or should be separated from Hamas’s demand for opening the floodgates into Gaza (which would inevitably invite the terrorist group to re-arm, re-stock their munitions caches, and gather more raw materials for missile workshops.)
But that insistence on Shalit’s release interferes with Hillary Clinton’s current self-appointment as the defender of the Palestinians of Gaza, a posture through which she hopes to score points with the Arab and Islamic world. The secretary’s recent trip to Indonesia reveals this as a priority.
“Aid should never be used as a political weapon,” said Clinton’s State Department spokesman Robert Wood. If we accept that as a principle of American foreign policy, does that mean that kidnapping is okay?
Clinton’s criticism of Israel’s stand on Shalit will only strengthen Hamas’s bargaining position. And if she uses her visit to Israel next week to hammer Ehud Olmert on this point, the likely result of this little piece of “peace processing” will be Olmert acquiescing to Palestinian demands on border crossings. That may well mean that Gilad Shalit will remain in captivity for who knows how much longer.
All those New Yorkers who were convinced by the sincerity of Clinton’s faithful support of Israel during her eight years in the Senate representing the Empire State can now officially eat crow. But that’s no help to Gilad Shalit or his parents.