Hilary Leila Krieger, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 8, 2007
Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton expressed skepticism to The Jerusalem Post Thursday that the much-lauded Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas could be a partner for peace given that his administration had issued textbooks inciting hatred against Israel.
"There are no good options," she said when queried by the Jerusalem Post about his leadership minutes after condemning the hatred and violence in new Palestinian textbooks, which she described as having negative "consequences for the prospects for peace."
Still, she backed continued engagement. "We have to try to push the other side to some kind of change," she continued, "while you still prepare your defenses and protect yourself."
At a press conference about the textbooks, Clinton condemned as "child abuse" the "glorification of death and violence" presented to young readers of the volumes.
In response to reporters' questions, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination also said that she would support Israel negotiating with Syria "should Israel determine that it's in Israel's best interest to pursue negotiations."
"These decisions are for Israel to make," she said.
Speaking generally, she also said, "I don't believe that cutting off all contact is smart."
The press conference was held at the Senate upon the release of a new Palestinian Media Watch report detailing what authors called a denial of Israel's right to exist and of the Holocaust.
The organization said that the books, published this November and December, had been produced under Abbas's direction and were not the result of influence from Hamas legislators elected last year.
The report cites several instances in 12th grade textbooks where Israel doesn't exist on maps and where the Nazi extermination of Jews didn't happen. It also quotes sections that praise fighting against American and British soldiers in Iraq as "brave resistance to liberate Iraq," while human rights are described as something the US "takes advantage" of to intervene in places like Afghanistan and Darfur.
A statement released ahead of the event quoted Clinton as saying, "Ever since we first raised this issue some years ago there still has not been an adequate repudiation of incitement by the Palestinian Authority. It is even more disturbing that the problem appears to have gotten worse."
At the press conference, Clinton also stressed her backing for the Jewish state.
"I have been and will continue to be a very strong supporter of Israel. Israel is our ally. Israel is a fellow democracy," she said. "We must let the world know that we stand with Israel, that we guarantee Israel's security."
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