Of the advice offered to Hillary Clinton from former Secretary of State James Baker, on which Shmuel commented earlier on the most shocking statement of all is perhaps this: “I happen to believe that both her husband and President George W. Bush waited too long.”
So Clinton waited too long? Let’s see. . .
September 13, 1993: Clinton hosts the Oslo accords ceremony at the White House.
May 4, 1994: His Secretary of State Warren Christopher contributes to the finalizing of the Cairo Agreement in an all-night session that leads, after a famous last minute onstage Arafat dance, to the signing of the Gaza-Jericho deal.
June 25, 1994: Presides over the signature of the Washington Declaration, a statement that formed the basis for the later peace accord between Israel and Jordan.
October 26, 1994: Attends the signing ceremony of the Jordan-Israel peace agreement.
September 28, 1995: Hosts the signing of the so-called Oslo-II agreement in Washington.
November 6, 1995: Flies to Israel to attend Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral and delivers an emotional speech to the world.
March 13, 1996: Attends the Sharm El Sheikh “Peacemakers” summit to rally support for beleaguered Israeli PM Shimon Peres after four horrific terror attacks have undermined his bid for re-election in Israel.
April 30, 1996: Hosts Peres in Washington in a high-profile meeting designed to help Peres’s election bid.
October 2, 1996: Summons Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and King Hussein to the White House for a two day emergency summit to quell violence between Israel and the PA.
October 15-22, 1998: Hosts a week of talks at the Wye River Plantation that finally yield–thanks to the continuous presence and active engagement of the President–the Wye Accords.
February 8, 1999: Attends King Hussein’s funeral in Amman
December 8, 1999: Opens the Shepherdstown talks between Israeli and Syrian delegations.
March 27, 2000: Flies to Geneva to meet Syrian President, Hafez el Assad, in an effort to seize an agreement between Syria and Israel.
June 1, 2000: Meets with Israel’s PM Ehud Barak in Lisbon for two hours.
July 12-24, 2000: Hosts Camp David Summit (and delays his departure for the G-8 Summit in Japan), giving his active input throughout the talks.
October 8, 2000: Sends Madeleine Albright to Paris to help resolve the outbreak of the Intifada.
October 17, 2000: Attends the Sharm El Sheikh summit designed to seize a ceasefire between Israel and the PA.
23 December 23, 2000: Issues the “Clinton Parameters” for peace in the Middle East.
On top of all this, Clinton was the first U.S. president to have visited Israel twice in his time in office. He was the only U.S. President ever to visit Gaza, where he addressed the Palestinian Legislative Council in December 1998. Yasser Arafat was the most frequent visitor to the White House under his presidency: 12 times in 8 years. His two secretaries of State came to the region dozens of times, and his special envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Dennis Ross, was in Israel, the territories, and adjacent countries perhaps hundreds of times.
A fact-check would have led Baker to realize that Clinton was involved in the peace process very frequently, very passionately, very intensely–and perhaps very naively–from almost the first day of his presidency.
Baker said Clinton waited too long to take action. But the record shows he took, perhaps, too much action. And for what? The lessons learned from the Clinton presidency should be a cautionary tale for President-elect Obama: who, after all, wants another failure such as that one so early in their presidential term?