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Special envoy George Mitchell Photo: AP
Special envoy George Mitchell Photo: AP

Congress: Lower profile of Israel-US rift

Following pressure from constituents in states like New York and Florida, members of Congress ask president to be less public about possible tensions between Israeli, US administrations; They made no demands about policy

Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington
Published: 06.13.09, 09:49 / Israel News

Democratic senators and representatives have asked US President Barack Obama to "lower the profile" of tensions between the United States and Israel. Nonetheless, the Congress members, many them leading Obama's support base during the 2008 election, did not demand that he change his new policy towards Israel or stop his call for a halt in settlement construction.


Many members of Congress support Obama's stance on the settlements or, at the very least, are unwilling to tussle in public with a president who has a two-thirds approval rating.


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Mitchell: Obama wants 'immediate' Mideast talks / Reuters, Ali Waked
US envoy George Mitchell says 'president has told me to exert all efforts to create circumstance...for comprehensive peace, normalization of relations' between Israel and its neighbors. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there will be no talks until Israel recognizes Palestinian state, upholds Road Map commitments
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On the other hand, some senators and House representatives, especially those in states with large Jewish populations, such as New York, New Jersey and Florida, are beginning to get some negative feedback from their constituencies, who feel uncomfortable with the media publications about a crisis in Israel-US relations.


In recent days, the White House has received a number of requests by telephone to curtail the "media fire" between Washington and Jerusalem. In response, callers weer told that overt pressure on Israel served the Obama administration prior to his trip to Cairo to address the Muslim world.


But Congress members have pointed out that the trip has now passed and yet strife – or at least the description of it – between Israel and the United States has gotten out of control.


Some are even calling for a meeting with the US' special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, when he returns from his latest visit to the region.


White House sources believe such a meeting would be beneficial, so as to preserve the existing unity between the presidency and the Congress and to guarantee that the support of pro-Israel members of Congress remains behind Obama.


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