Hillary Clinton Slams Suha Arafat's Comments on Israel

Published May 4th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

The former US first lady, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, on Thursday called anti-Israeli remarks by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's wife, Suha, "offensive and very disgusting," adding that they could inflame violence in the Middle East, according to the Jerusalem Post, quoting the Associated Press.  

During her Senate campaign, Hilary Clinton got into hot water with New York's Jewish community when she hugged and kissed Suha Arafat just after the Palestinian leader's wife had accused Israelis of using poison gas on Palestinian women and children. 

On Nov. 11, 1999, during a Gaza appearance with then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Suha Arafat stated: "Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children." 

A New York Times editorial questioned whether Hillary actually agreed with Suha Arafat. 

The former first lady later criticized the remarks and said she had not heard a translation of Mrs. Arafat's remarks clearly. But the picture of that kiss, which occurred during a White House trip to the West Bank, was splashed across newspapers around the world, said the report.  

In an interview with a Saudi Arabian women's magazine, Mrs. Arafat said she hated Israel and called peace between Jews and Palestinians "a lie."  

"It's offensive and very disgusting that she would engage in language like that, especially at a time of violence in the Mideast," Senator Clinton said Thursday as she left a conference in Washington on acid rain.  

"Any kind of inflammatory comments at a time of peril and danger for Israel that in any way encourages anti-Israeli feelings or actions could present ... a real danger, not just a rhetorical danger," the New York Democrat said.  

She said Suha Arafat's comments "could in some people's minds give them a license to be violent."  

But Senator Clinton said she placed blame for violence in the Middle East on Yasser Arafat.  

In an interview with the magazine Sayidaty, Mrs. Arafat said she had rejected contacts with Israeli delegations representing social institutions since the Israelis were "responsible for the problems our children have."  

"I have always rejected normalizing relations with (Israeli) women," she was quoted as saying by the magazine. "They always invite me to their functions and I categorically refuse because I hate Israel."  

She also declared that "peace with them (Israelis) is a lie."  

Mrs. Arafat rarely speaks publicly and has largely kept a low profile since that 1999 appearance with the first lady.  

In a February 1999 report by the New York Times, Suha voiced criticism of her husband’s government’s joint plans with Israel. She described Gaza airport, which operates under strict Israeli security supervision, as "a branch of Ben Gurion in Gaza," referring to the airport outside Tel Aviv. She ridiculed the thriving Palestinian-run casino in Jericho as "a disgrace."  

"I hate it," she said. "It's the most shameful act that the economic counselors of the Palestinian Authority did. Right across from a refugee camp, no less. We have no hospitals, no sewers, sick children, a whole sick society. But, oh, we have gambling. Great." – Albawaba.com 



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