WASHINGTON – A group of 76 US senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday in which they expressed their "desire to see peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors" while stressing the need to take into account the "risks the (Jewish state) will face in any peace agreement."
The letter, signed by senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties, does not mention the disagreements between Obama and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the peace process, but does state that " without a doubt, our two governments will agree on some issues and disagree on others, but the United States friendship with Israel requires that we work closely together as we recommit ourselves to our historic role of a trusted friend and active mediator."
The letter was sent shortly before Netanyahu was scheduled to conclude his visit to Washington. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) supported the senators' letter, which also called on Obama's administration to "continue to insist on the absolute Palestinian commitment to ending terrorist violence and to building the institutions necessary for a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side, in peace with the Jewish state of Israel.
"The more capable and responsible Palestinian forces became, the more they demonstrate the ability to govern and to maintain security, the easier it will be for them to reach an accord with Israel. We encourage you to continue programs similar to the promising security assistance and training program led by Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, and hope that you will look for other ways to improve Palestinian security and civilian infrastructure," the letter read.
The senators concluded by expressing their hope that Obama "will promote far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in encouraging moderate Palestinian elements. Everyone in the region has a stake in the success of these negotiations and should contribute to a lasting and comprehensive resolution."
A similar letter is being circled in Congress, and so far 200 representatives have signed it.
Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu met with members of the US House Foreign Relations Committee. The prime minister said he told the senators who participated in the meeting that the threat from Tehran remains a
strong part of any equation for negotiations.
Democratic Senator John Kerry, who serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he was "encouraged by a number of things (Netanyahu) said."
Kerry said he had stressed to Netanyahu "the importance of Israel moving forward, especially in respect to the settlements issue." The senator also acknowledged to the prime minister that the issue was not "a one-way street" and that Arab steps toward joining the "regional road map" to peace were also critical.