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May 3, 2016

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Report: Hillary Clinton was swayed by Netanyahu over Iran sanctions

New book details how likely Democratic candidate differed from Barack Obama while serving as secretary of state, while her campaign is claiming her share of the credit for the nuclear deal.

By Haaretz | May 2, 2016 | 9:50 PM

A new book about the relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton paints her as politically much closer to Israel’s skeptical view than the Obama administration which she served, even claiming she was swayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the lifting of sanctions after she left the State Department.

The New York Times published an excerpt of the volume called “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power,” by Mark Landler, on Monday, which show her as much more ambivalent than President Barack Obama was through the process of negotiations.

Clinton has since claimed a share of credit for the deal and yet from the outset her skepticism has been plain to see, the article said.

According to the book, during the negotiations, Clinton was swayed by many in Congress, as well as by Netanyahu, who argued Iran was so desperate for a deal that tightening the vise would have extracted better terms, the newspaper said.

“She would have squeezed them again,” a person who has worked with her for several years said, “and the only debate is what they would have done.”

Obama feared then though that ratcheting up the pressure would undercut Rohani, unravel the sanctions coalition and doom his diplomatic efforts. He persuaded the Senate to hold off on new sanctions.

Clinton never made her differences with Obama public, and she has publicly endorsed his nuclear deal, though with more caveats than her former boss, the newspaper said.

“It’s not enough just to say yes to this deal,” Clinton said in October. “We have to say, ‘Yes, and.’ Yes, and we will enforce it with vigor and vigilance. Yes, and we will embed it in a broader strategy to confront Iran’s bad behavior in the region. Yes, and we will begin from Day 1 to set the conditions so Iran knows it will never be able to get a nuclear weapon.”

Other less remembered remarks by Clinton about Iran include how during the 2008 presidential campaign she famously ridiculed Obama’s pledge to hold talks with Iran’s leaders.

She also warned at that time that if Iran ever launched a nuclear strike on Israel, the United States would “totally obliterate” it, the article said.

Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, quoted by the Times, said that Obama and Clinton “shared the same tactic, which was engagement, but they envisioned different endgames.”

”Clinton had a more cynical view of the endgame,” Sadjadpour said. “‘We’re going to engage them not because we think they’re going to reciprocate, but because when they rebuff us, it will expose the fact that the problem lies in Tehran, and not in Washington.’”