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'Holy Moly!' New Clinton emails show White House's inside track on Israel

La candidate à la primaire démocrate, Hillary Clinton, le 4 février 2016 à l'université de New Hampshire à Durham
Jewel Samad (AFP/Archives)
Emails to and from former secretary of state include musings on various rumors

A "very rough" conversation between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni's aim to bring down the Israeli government and a (potentially apocryphal) story of Michael Oren dashing around the West Wing after a political rival are just some of the topics revealed in the latest batch of Clinton emails released to the public.

The 562 emails released over the weekend, the latest batch of emails sent from Hillary Clinton's private server while she was still secretary of state and reported on by Ynet, may not cause her the embarrassment that earlier emails did but they do offer a telling insight into behind-the-scenes discussions on Israel in the White House.

An email with a transcript of a conversation between then-Secretary of State Clinton and Netanyahu, tantalizingly titled "Very rough," reveals nothing after the initial greetings between the two, as the rest of the dialogue has been redacted.

Another email addresses rumors that former Israeli National Security Adviser Uzi Arad had been forced to resign in the wake of Shin Bet suspicions that he was leaking sensitive information.

The rumor came to Clinton's attention after a staffer sent her an interview with Arad from Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth, conducted as he was on his way out of the role, and an excerpt from another story about Arad's resignation. The aide told Clinton that she should get the "whole, translated article," to which she replied: "Holy Moly! What more can you find out about this and why Arad had to resign?"

Another email reported on by Ynet, sent in January 2011, is from former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and addresses Ehud Barak's departure from the Labor Party and the negative impact on the peace process.

Noting that Barak's departure "stabilizes Bibi's coalition and eliminates any remaining moderating influence of Barak," Indyk cautions that furthermore, then-opposition head Tzipi Livni "is intent on bringing the government down."

The "bottom line," Indyk wrote, was that "the already dismal prospects for a peace breakthrough just grew dimmer."

Livni pops up again in an email she sent to Clinton later on in 2011, in which she warns against terrorist groups taking advantage of the Arab Spring and exploiting potential democratic elections.

Referencing an earlier email she'd sent to Clinton, Livni wrote: "I discussed my frustration that in the case of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the international community had limited its definition of democracy to the technical conduct of voting and failed to insist that those who sought the benefits of the democratic process accept its underlying principles as well.

"The result, as you know, was to give a measure of democratic legitimacy and power to forces that were plainly not committed to democratic principles and that continue to pose a danger to their own societies and to their neighbors," Livni continued.

An intriguing, although potentially apocryphal, story about then-Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren hearing that Ehud Barak was conducting a secret meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House.

Oren, who was himself at the White House for a National Security Council meeting, allegedly "raced around the West Wing searching for Barak, opening doors and looking in rooms," before being escorted out himself.

Responding to the rumor, Clinton wrote: "Doubt that it happened, but these days, who knows???"

Sanders' student arrest


Meanwhile, another Democratic presidential candidate's past also came to the fore when a photograph of Bernie Sanders being arrested during a protest on Chicago's South Side in 1963.

The photo, unearthed by the Chicago Tribune from its own archives, shows then-21-year-old Sanders being hauled towards a police wagon by two officers.​

Sanders, whose history of civil rights activism has been one of his key sources of appeal to his supporters, was a student at the University of Chicago when the photograph was taken.

"Bernie identified it himself," said Tad Devine, one of the Sanders campaign's senior advisers.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Sanders was arrested on August 12, 1963, and charged with resisting arrest. Found guilty, he was charged $25.


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