Hillary Clinton Hits the Campaign Trail in Israel

July 7, 2008 - 8:07 PM

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Hillary Rodham Clinton is due to visit Israel this week as guest of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's wifeNava, who several months ago invited the first lady to address a conference on youth violence.

Mrs. Clinton will be accompanied by her daughter Chelsea, whose official hostesses will be Barak's daughters.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv told CNSNews.com Clinton's schedule had not yet been confirmed. According to press reports, she will not enter Palestinian Authority areas during the two-day stay.

The visit is widely seen as an attempt to garner support from New York's Jewish community for her Senate bid. Many Israelis were skeptical when Clinton appeared to make a dramatic reversal on the issue of Israel's claim to Jerusalem, after long being seen as sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Clinton's spokeswoman denied that politics was the motive for her trip. "This is an important part of the world that she feels a responsibility toward," Clinton's spokeswoman Marsha Berry was quoted as saying. "[The trip] is something she would do as First Lady no matter what the circumstances were."

Mrs. Clinton arrives in Israel just days after the House of Representatives finally approved an aid package that President Clinton had promised Israel, the PA and Jordan at the signing of the Wye River peace agreement last year. Clinton vetoed an earlier Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill several weeks ago after Congress cut the money pledged to help the parties implement commitments contained in the Wye Memorandum.

Intensive lobbying both by the Administration and pro-Israel groups led to Friday's reversal, when the House passed the foreign aid package by a vote of 316-100. However, instead of approving just this year's $500,000 installment of the Wye funding, lawmakers lumped the three-year commitment into one sum and approved the entire $1.8 billion dollars.

The Senate is expected to approve the bill soon.

Of the $1.8 billion, Israel is to receive $1.2 billion to subsidize its security needs in the face of further redeployment in disputed areas. The PA was promised $400,000 in economic aid, while Jordan was promised $300,000 in economic and military support.

Until now, only Jordan had actually received any of the funding, one-third of the $300,000 pledged. After her Israel visit, Mrs. Clinton is expected to visit Jordan's Queen Noor, the late King Hussein's widow, as well as King Abdullah and Queen Rania.