By Jesse Byrnes - 08/10/14 01:34 PM EDT
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ratcheted up her language supporting America's strongest Middle East ally, saying the world opinion is "historically tilted against Israel."
"It’s the old PR problem that Israel has," Clinton said. "Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state."
"So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel," she added.
Since fighting began July 8, more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed, many on the Palestinian side were civilians, according to The Associated Press. Thousands have been wounded.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict" for political leverage, Clinton said, noting the difficulty placing blame for civilian deaths in the "fog of war."
"The ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made," she said, later adding, "I would not put Hamas in the category of people we could work with."
Clinton, who in her book Hard Choices touts her diplomatic work securing the last long-term cease-fire in 2012, noted her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who is "adored in Israel," got Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give up territory and highlighted her own ability to work with the Israeli leader.
"Dealing with Bibi is not easy, so people get frustrated, and they lose sight of what we’re trying to achieve here," she said.
When asked why Secretary of State John Kerry had spent so much time focusing on the Israel-Palestinian situation while Islamic extremists captured large portions of Iraq and Syria, Clinton was frank on the U.S. commitment to Israel.
"As the U.S., as a U.S. official, you have to pay attention to anything that threatens Israel directly, or anything in the larger Middle East that arises out of the Palestinian-Israeli situation. That’s just a given," she said.