McCain suggests Bill Clinton as Gaza truce negotiator

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Leading Republican Senator John McCain suggested Sunday that President Barack Obama should send Bill Clinton as a special envoy to try to negotiate peace between Israel and Hamas.

“The United States should obviously be as heavily influential as they can,” McCain told CBS television, referring to the bloody conflict that has raged since Wednesday between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers.

The Arizona Republican, who lost his 2008 presidential bid to Obama, sang the praises of Clinton, a Democrat, as someone uniquely placed to try to broker a truce between the sworn enemies.

“I know he’d hate me for saying that but we need a person of enormous prestige and influence to have these parties sit down together as an honest broker,” said McCain.

“The United States of America has got to push as hard as we can to resolve this Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

The escalating violence had already killed 67 Palestinians and three Israelis after Israel launched nearly 100 hours of air strikes on Gaza in a bid to stop rocket attacks from militants in the crowded coastal enclave.

Clinton made a major push for the Middle East peace process as he sought to negotiate peace deals between Israel and Palestinians culminating with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, though these did not end the conflict.

The former US president also helped broker a compromise for Jordan to end its state of war with the Jewish state, becoming only the second Arab country after Egypt to normalize ties with Israel.

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McCain suggests Bill Clinton as Gaza truce negotiator