Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in comments that aired Sunday urged Palestinians and Israelis to seize the moment of Barack Obama's presidency if they want to make peace.
"When my husband left office, some months later, then-President [Yasser] Arafat called Bill and said, 'OK, I'm ready to take the deal now'," Clinton told an audience at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. "And Bill said, 'But I’m not president now.' So let's seize this moment … so that in 10 years, somebody else gets a phone call and says, 'OK, now I’m ready'."
The interview was taped last Monday but aired Sunday.
During the interview, Clinton accused Iran of not really caring about the Palestinians despite its criticism of Israeli policy.
"I'm aware of the drumbeats and I think that those unfortunately are being created for very cynical purposes," Clinton said. "Now, let's just be very blunt here, because I like to be as clear as I can. I think that there is very little doubt that Iran does not want to see any kind of negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For its own purposes, it wants to keep its attention off of what is the big concern for the future, which is a nuclear-armed Iran."
Clinton also expressed hope that Americans would become more aware of the improvement in women's rights across the Middle East.
"I think that it's not only unfair to stereotype any group of people, but it does a great disservice because then you don’t get the full appreciation of what is happening in this part of the world back in my own country," Clinton said. "So I’m determined, through my travels, to do a lot of meetings like this. I do town halls, I do interviews like this, because I want to be someone who helps break down those stereotypes."
Clinton also took advantage in that interview to comment on Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), whom the former first lady called an "extremist." The remark, which was reported last week, provoked much criticism, since Loughner is widely believed to suffer from a mental illness and was not known to harbor strong political beliefs.
"Look, we have extremists in my country," Clinton said when asked why many Americans harbor suspicions against Muslims even though only a handful of radicals were involved in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Giffords, was just shot by an extremist in our country. We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence."
The interview only hit a slightly discordant note when the moderator, in an effort to "break the ice," told Clinton, "You look much prettier in person that you look on TV."
"Well, thank you," Clinton responded. "I think."