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Responses to the Obama Administration's Proposed 'Concession to Enemies' of Israel

9:42 AM, Feb 18, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen issued a strong rebuke to reports that the Obama administration would make "a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies."

Josh Rogin reports

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee lashed out at the Obama administration on Thursday over reports the United States offered to support a U.N. Security Council statement critical of Israeli settlements.

FP's Turtle Bay first reported on Wednesday evening that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice offered to support this draft statement, which affirms that the Security Council "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity." The United States was apparently trying to head off a vote on a stronger
resolution put forth
by the Palestinian Authority and supported by Lebanon, a temporary member of the Security Council.

The Palestinian Authority rejected the offer, and a vote on the stronger resolution could come as soon as Friday, Turtle Bay reported. The State Department has not yet promised to veto that resolution but has repeatedly said the Security Council is not the right venue for this issue, leading many to believe that a veto is
likely
.

The Obama administration's policy has
long been to oppose much of Israel's ongoing settlement activity. But the revelation that the administration contemplated criticizing Israel at the U.N. has many members of Congress incensed, especially Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

"Support for this anti-Israel statement is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. It telegraphs that the U.S. can be bullied into abandoning critical democratic allies and core U.S. principles," she said in a statement on Thursday.

"Pretending that criticism of Israel is OK if it comes in a ‘Presidential Statement' instead of a resolution isn't leadership, it's unacceptable. Twisting and
turning and tying yourself in knots to avoid using our veto to defend our allies and interests isn't leadership, it's unacceptable. The administration should change course, stand unequivocally with Israel, and publicly pledge to
block any anti-Israel UN Security Council action," she said.

In a rare joint statement pushing back against the Obama administration, Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor and House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer issued the following press release:

As we wrote to the President last month, the Palestinian leadership’s decision to reject the difficult but vital responsibility of making peace with Israel through direct negotiations, and instead to advocate for anti-Israel measures by the United Nations Security Council is counterproductive and unacceptable. Successive Israeli governments have proven Israel’s steadfast commitment to peace and our Secretary of State
has noted that the current Israeli government took an ‘unprecedented’ step in pursuit of peace with its ten-month moratorium on Israeli housing construction in the West Bank. Furthermore, since the beginning of the current Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for direct
negotiations with the Palestinians anytime and anywhere, without preconditions.

Instead of negotiating directly with Israel to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, Palestinian leaders continue to seek to circumvent the negotiating process by advocating anti-Israel measures at the U.N. Security Council, U.N. General Assembly, and U.N. Human Rights Council. The U.S. should not condone or reward this behavior by supporting their resolutions. We strongly urge the Administration to veto this resolution and to uphold our longstanding commitment to Israel’s security.

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