Thu, March 05, 2009
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Clinton's tough talk

2009-03-05 03:47:19 GMT2009-03-05 11:47:19 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

INTRO: Secretary of State Clinton called Israeli destruction of Arab East Jerusalem "unhelpful"

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A day after pledging the new Obama administration would always protect Israel's security, Clinton visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank to deliver a message of support for President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.

Deborah Lutterbeck reports from Washington

STORY:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the West Bank.

A day after pledging the new Obama administration would always protect Israel's security, Clinton visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank to deliver a message of support for President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority. She also called Israel's planned destruction of more than 80 dwellings in Arab east Jerusalem "unhelpful".

SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying (English):

"The ramifications go far beyond the individuals and the families that have received the notices you referenced. So, yes, this will be taken up with the Israeli government."

So is this a sign that the Obama Administration plans to take a tougher stance on Israel?

William Keylor of Boston University.

SOUNDBITE: William Keylor of Boston University, saying (English):

"I think Secretary of State Clinton's statement, while it wasn't a very powerful type of criticism certainly indicates that the Obama Administration's trying to prod the Israel's to move closer to some kind of understanding with the Palestinians."

With Benjamin Netanyahu seen as the likely leader for Israel, the real test of the Obama Administration's posture could come later.

SOUNDBITE: William Keylor of Boston University, saying (English):

"If Mr. Netanyahu digs in his heels and refused to compromise at that stage they will have to decide whether they are going to publicly criticize Israel in a much harsher way that they have up to this time or whether they are going to keep quiet and I think it is a political judgment that the President and Secretary of State will have to make."

Clinton headed to Brussels after her trip to the Middle East.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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