Clinton At State: Will Senator Step Away From Israel?

In the event that Mrs. Clinton did push for concessions that went too far for her former New York base, some of the members of Congress said they would let her know.

“I’ve never been ashamed of voicing my opinion either quietly or legislatively,” said Representative Steve Israel, who is openly campaigning to replace Mrs. Clinton in the Senate.

Representative Eliot Engel, a particularly vocal and enthusiastic Hillary supporter, even in New York, also seemed to be reckoning with the reality of a different relationship.

“There may be a little bit of slack given to her, but there is a very fine line there,” said Mr. Engel. “If people feel that pressure is being put on Israel, then it doesn’t matter if it is Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter. If Hillary is doing it, it’s not going to make me less unhappy.”

During Mrs. Clintons high-profile confirmation hearing on the morning of Jan. 13, she offered plenty of support for Israel, saying that the refusal to negotiate with Hamas until it recognized Israel and renounced violence was “just, for me, an absolute.” But in her opening statement, she also suggested that the Obama administration would adopt a more comprehensive view of the situation.

“As intractable as the Middle East’s problems may seem—and many presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to help work out a resolution—we cannot give up on peace,” she said. “The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel’s desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets.

“However,” Mrs. Clinton said, “we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. This must only increase our determination to seek a just and lasting peace agreement that brings real security to Israel; normal and positive relations with its neighbors; and independence, economic progress and security to the Palestinians in their own state.”

As Mrs. Clinton left the chamber for a lunch break, several protesters began yelling at her. They demanded to hear more from her about the Palestinians who had died in Gaza.

jhorowitz@observer.com