327 House members tell Obama to make U-turn on US-Israeli relations

posted at 10:00 am on March 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama talks a lot about the “spirit of bipartisanship.”  Now he’s had a chance to see it for himself, thanks to a series of diplomatic fumbles between the White House and Israel, usually one of America’s closest allies.  More than three-quarters of the US House of Representatives signed a letter expressing dismay over the direction of the alliance, warning that the “highly publicized tensions” aren’t helping America’s interests:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will continue discussions with his senior ministers in the coming days, looking for a way out of the crisis with the US. He received some badly needed support on Friday from 327 congressmen, who signed a letter expressing concern that “the highly publicized tensions” in US-Israeli ties will “not advance the interests” of either state. …

Meanwhile, in Washington, [327] congressmen – three-quarters of the House of Representatives – signed a bipartisan letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing solid support for Israel and the expectation that differences between Jerusalem and Washington will be smoothed over quickly and in private.

“We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension,” the letter read. “A strong Israel is an asset to the national security of the United States and brings stability to the Middle East.

“We are concerned that the highly publicized tensions in the relationship will not advance the interests the US and Israel share. Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability.”

The letter stated that the US’s unswerving commitment to Israel’s security has been essential in forging previous Israeli-Arab peace agreements, “both because it convinced those who sought Israel’s destruction to abandon any such hope and because it gave successive Israeli governments the confidence to take calculated risks for peace.”

The letter’s lead signatories were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD).  The letter had only circulated for three days last week before garnering 327 signatures, probably the most bipartisan effort seen on Capitol Hill in this session of Congress.  It provides a measure of just how far out of the mainstream the Obama administration has gotten on relations with Israel.

Moreover, they’re entirely correct.  Thanks to what amounts to a reversal of 20 years of American policy on settlements in Jerusalem, Obama has given the Palestinians a reason to refuse to come to the table that Israel simply can’t address.  Obama has made peace a lot less likely than it was fifteen months ago by throwing his tantrum in such a public manner.   Weakening Israel won’t bring peace — it will bring more attacks on Israel as Palestinians begin to believe that the US won’t back its ally any longer.

Jennifer Rubin believes Obama’s fumble was by design, or at least by instinctual hostility towards Israel.  With advisers like Samantha Power at the White House, that hostility was known long before Obama got elected.  Accidental, latent, or overt, Obama’s hostility towards a key democracy in the most strategic part of the world has raised eyebrows of both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill — perhaps belatedly, but not too late to put some serious pressure for this administration to grow the hell up.


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