Bill Clinton to Israel: Forge peace, as ‘Palestinians are having more babies’

Former President Bill Clinton had blunt words for Israel during a visit and speech at a noted academic facility: Agree to a two-state solution. The Palestinians are having more babies than you.

“No matter how many settlers you put out there [in the West Bank], the Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis as a whole,” he said at a Monday-evening address at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot. “You’ve got an existential question to answer.”

The ceremony was to celebrate Israeli President Shimon Peres‘ 90th birthday, The Times of Israel reported.

Mr. Clinton said that he sided with Mr. Peres‘ view of peace with the Palestinians — that reconciliation was the key. He also suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current vision was too negative and that the Israeli leader would do better if he didn’t concentrate on worst-case-scenario planning, the Times of Israel reported.

“Things are going to hell in a handbasket all around you,” Mr. Clinton said, the Times of Israel reported. “[But] your neighbors are still your neighbors.” And there’s little chance for the future “if all you do is prepare for the worst and don’t work for the best. … You have a better chance if you are driven by a vision of peace and reconciliation.”

Mr. Clinton did give Mr. Netanyuhu credit for halting construction in contested settlement areas for months during his second term as prime minister, and he said the Palestinians were wrong to refuse peace talks at that time, the Times of Israel reported.

He also added, the Times of Israel reported: “I’m like President Peres. I don’t see any alternative to a Palestinian state. … You’re going to have to share the future. Paint a picture in your mind of the future you want to have and take the logical steps to achieve it.”

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