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Hillary Clinton: Return U.S.-Israel relations to constructive footing

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Center for American Progress March 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee, Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the head of a group representing major American Jewish organizations that the U.S. relationship with Israel needed to be returned to a more "constructive footing."

"Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement Sunday evening. She also said that Israel should not be allowed to become a partisan issue.

Clinton's comments come at a time when the relationship between the two countries has been more strained than usual. The latest friction stems from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion, just before Israel's elections earlier this month, that a Palestinian state would not be established if he were reelected. It was a reversal from his previous position, and although the prime minister later backtracked from his comments, the White House has remained critical.

President Obama said last week that despite efforts by Netanyahu to soften his remarks about a two-state solution, "there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state." He said he was obligated to "evaluate honestly" how he would manage Israeli-Palestinian relations over the next several years.

The president also said that the current issues stem not from a personality clash with Netanyahu, but rather a "real knotty policy difference."

Hoenlein initiated the phone call with Clinton. He said her views "are of special importance and timeliness given recent issues in the US-Israel relationship."

"We note her call for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which, we believe, is the only possible route to a true peace," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.