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Hillary begins this chapter by verifying an incident we had all seen reported that was never confirmed.  It took place on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem in 2012 and concerned many of us.

She was traveling in the Holy Land just before Thanksgiving.

Video: Hillary Clinton With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

President Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza.

The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored. The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The incident on the Ramallah road involved a rocket that might have been launched, according to Hillary, and not the attempted ground attack we had read of here.

As she mentioned in chapter 14, the Obama administration came into office on the heels of a cease-fire in the region that more-or-less held through the next two years and began a creeping deterioration through 2011 into 2012.  Events of the Arab Spring influenced Hamas activity in Gaza as related by Hillary and Sinai began to descend into lawlessness as Bedouin tribes, excluded by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo,  became restless.

On this first trip to post-revolutionary Egypt,  she raised the issue of Sinai to then President Morsi to no avail.  He perceived no problem.  After all, there was an Islamist government now.  She found his perception naive at best.

Hillary Clinton with Egyptian FM Mohamed Kamel Amr

Hillary Clinton in Egypt: Day Two

Came August –  Henry Kissinger had once warned her as secretary of state never to plan a vacation in August  – this.

Hillary Clinton on Vacation (Sort Of)

With regard to the Secretary’s call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr, they obviously talked about the situation in Sinai and the ongoing Egyptian security operations. They talked about the visit of the IMF to Cairo and under the – with Christine Lagarde there as well, and the United States’ ongoing interest in support Egypt’s recovery as well.

In October the Emir of Qatar made an official visit to Gaza.  It was a big deal for Hamas and precipitated a thorny regional situation for all involved at a volatile time.  The Emir, Sheikh Hammad bin Khalifa al-Thani,  assisted by his cousin,  Sheikh Hammad bin Jassim al-Thani,  sought to seize the moment to  peddle Qatari influence and consolidate power in the region.

The power-play was short-lived.  With the overthrow of Morsi and Islamist influence diluted, the two Sheikhs stepped aside in 2013.   In 2014 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE recalled their ambassadors to Qatar.

Hillary was in Australia with Leon Panetta and Martin Dempsey when a call came through from Ehud Barak that in response to rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel was about to begin an air campaign.

Hillary Clinton With Australian Foreign Minister Robert Carr, Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

 

Hillary was bound for Singapore and then Thailand to meet up with President Obama.  They were to make an historic joint visit to Burma and Cambodia where she  had originally been scheduled to attend ASEAN with President Obama.   It was a critical summit addressing issues about the South China Sea.

But in the Middle East there was a chance of a ground invasion of Gaza.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Tour Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Public Schedule for November 20, 2012

The decision had been made that it was most important that she travel to the Middle East to seek a cease-fire. Hillary and her traveling party headed for Israel.

Breaking: Hillary Clinton Wheels Down Israel

She met with Netanyahu immediately upon landing, but was told she would not be given much time.  If she did not effect an agreement quickly, the plans for a ground invasion would be implemented.

Hillary Clinton’s Day in Pics

Hillary Clinton Strongly Condemns Bus Bombing in Tel Aviv

Hillary Clinton Brokers Egyptian-Sponsored Middle East Cease-Fire

The visit to Abbas was largely a formality to keep him relevant in a situation where he had no real control or muscle to exert since the threat was coming from Hamas.  Hillary wanted to be sure he was kept in the loop.  He appreciated that.

Missing element: trust.  Mubarak was gone and the Israeli’s did not trust the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt that was negotiating for Hamas.  An Iraeli official told Hillary that this was the hardest choice Bibi had faced as Prime Minister.

She left for Cairo with an Israeli-approved  strategy.  This is what her day looked like.

 

Public Schedule for November 21, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
November 21, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo. Please click here for more information.

8:15 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in Jerusalem.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

9:30 a.m.  LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

11:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

2:40 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

4:10 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr deliver joint press statements, in Cairo. Please click here for a transcript of the remarks.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

Note: Secretary Clinton has no public schedule through Sunday, November 25th.

Morsi was educated in the U.S. and read carefully.  He questioned the translation, and objected to a portion until Hillary pointed out that his it was folks who had proposed that element at which point he let it slide.  He and the Muslim Brotherhood were new to leadership despite having something of a history,  and Hillary had to remind them of their position of leadership in the region.  The moment of the announcement would represent the apex of their authority.

Video: Hillary Clinton Announces Mid-East Cease-Fire

November 21, 2012 by still4hill

Hillary Clinton and the Gaza Cease-Fire

In the end a senior Israeli official told Hillary that they had been forty-eight hours from launching a ground offensive and that her intervention was the only thing standing in the way.

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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