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Congress & the Middle East: Senate Letter Urging Obama to Press Abbas on Peace

(September 24, 2010)

Eighty-seven Senators signed on to a bipartisan letter, that began circulating on September 24, 2010, addressed to President Obama that enumerated the key principles that could lead to successful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The letter was led by Sens. Barbara Boxer [D-CA], Johnny Isakson [R-GA], Robert P. Casey, Jr. [D-PA], and Richard Burr [R-NC].

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our appreciation for your successful effort to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and to pledge support for this process. As we stated in our March 29, 2010 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we strongly believe that such talks are in the interest of all parties involved, including the United States.

As you begin the difficult task of facilitating negotiations between the two parties over the coming months, we urge you to continue to emphasize to Israeli and Palestinian leaders that direct talks, while difficult, provide the best hope of reaching a meaningful and lasting peace agreement.

Unfortunately, it is clear that enemies of peace will do everything in their power to derail the direct talks, as evidenced by recent outrageous acts of violence by Hamas, and Iran and Hezbollah's denunciation of the effort even before it began. But we believe that provocations, whether real or perceived, should not derail the process.

Following the brutal murder of four innocent Israeli civilians by Hamas militants at the start of the negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not abandon the talks. Instead- after forcefully condemning the attack- he reached out to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying, "You are my partner for peace. Peace begins with leaders." We agree with the Prime Minister, and we also agree with you that it is critical that all sides stay at the table. Neither side should make threats to leave just as the talks are getting started.

In addition, we believe that Arab states could do more to provide meaningful political and economic support for this process, including providing increased financial support to the Palestinian Authority. We understand that you share this sentiment and we respectfully request that you use your influence to ensure that there is sustained Arab support for the talks.

Finally, we applaud your commitment not to attempt to impose an agreement on the two parties. As Secretary of State Clinton recently stated to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, "only you can make the decision necessary to reach an agreement for the Israeli and Palestinian people." To truly achieve positive and meaningful results, it is absolutely critical to have an agreement that is carefully negotiated and ultimately embraced by both sides, and provides for Israel's lasting security.

We also appreciate your recent efforts to reaffirm the long-standing, special relationship between the United States and Israel, and for providing such robust support for Israel's security needs. For more than 60 years, the U.S. and Israel have shared a special bond, based in large part on our mutual commitment to security, democracy, and human rights. Embracing that special bond provides the best hope for securing peace between Israel and her neighbors.

In closing, we would like to thank you for your commitment to bringing peace to this important and volatile region of the world. For too long, this dispute has caused heartbreaking suffering for men, women, and children alike. It is time for Israelis and Palestinians to finally have the opportunity to live side-by-side in peace and security.


Akaka, Daniel HI D
Barrasso, John WY R
Baucus, Max MT D
Bayh, Evan IN D
Begich, Mark AK D
Bennet, Michael CO D
Bennett, Robert UT R
Bond, Christopher MO R
Boxer, Barbara CA D
Brown, Scott MA R
Brown, Sherrod OH D
Brownback, Sam KS R
Burr, Richard NC R
Burris, Roland IL D
Cantwell, Maria WA D
Cardin, Ben MD D
Carper, Tom DE D
Casey Jr., Bob PA D
Chambliss, Saxby GA R
Cochran, Thad MS R
Collins, Susan ME R
Conrad, Kent ND D
Corker, Bob TN R
Cornyn, John TX R
Crapo, Mike ID R
DeMint, Jim SC R
Dorgan, Byron ND D
Durbin, Richard IL D
Ensign, John NV R
Enzi, Mike WY R
Feingold, Russ WI D
Feinstein, Dianne CA D
Franken, Al MN D
Gillibrand, Kirsten NY D
Graham, Lindsey SC R
Grassley, Charles IA R
Hagan, Kay NC D
Harkin, Tom IA D
Hatch, Orrin UT R
Hutchinson, Kay Bailey TX R
Inhofe, Jim OK R
Inouye, Daniel HI D
Isakson, Johnny GA R
Johanns, Mike NE R
Johnson, Tim SD D
Kaufman, Ted DE D
Klobuchar, Amy MN D
Kohl, Herbert WI D
Kyl, Jon AZ R
Landrieu, Mary LA D
Lautenberg, Frank NJ D
LeMieux, George FL R
Levin, Carl MI D
Lieberman, Joseph CT I
Lincoln, Blanche AR D
McCain, John AZ R
McCaskill, Claire MO D
McConnell, Mitch KY R
Menendez, Bob NJ D
Merkley, Jeff OR D
Mikulski, Barbara MD D
Murkowski, Lisa AK R
Murray, Patty WA D
Nelson, Ben NE D
Nelson, Bill FL D
Pryor, Mark AR D
Reed, Jack RI D
Reid, Harry NV D
Risch, Jim ID R
Roberts, Pat KS R
Rockefeller, Jay WV D
Schumer, Charles NY D
Shaheen, Jeanne NH D
Shelby, Richard AL R
Snowe, Olympia ME R
Specter, Arlen PA D
Stabenow, Debbie MI D
Tester, John MT D
Thune, John SD R
Udall, Mark CO D
Udall, Tom NM D
Vitter, David LA R
Voinovich, George OH R
Warner, Mark VA D
Whitehouse, Sheldon RI D
Wicker, Roger MS R
Wyden, Ron OR D

Sources: AIPAC