US senators press Clinton on Mideast peace
Letter signed by vast majority of senators calls on secretary of state to 'reaffirm unbreakable bonds that tie United States and Israel,' says ' Disagreements should not adversely affect our mutual interests - including restarting peace process, curbing Iran nuke program
An overwhelming majority of US senators urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday "to do everything possible" to shore up ties with Israel and thaw the frozen Middle East peace process.
Seventy-six of the 100 US senators signed a letter urging Clinton to ease tensions over Israel's decision to build more settlements in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of their future state.
'Unbreakable bonds.' Clinton and Netanyahu (Archive photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)
"We write to urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the recent tensions" over the way Israel announced its plans "do not derail Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations or harm US-Israel relations," they said.
"In fact, we strongly believe that it is more important than ever for Israel and the Palestinians to enter into direct, face-to-face negotiations without preconditions on either side," the senators wrote.
The message, drafted by Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, followed on the heels of a similar message to Clinton from 333 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives.
The senators urged Clinton "to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds that tie the United States and Israel together and to diligently work to defuse current tensions" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"The Israeli and US governments will undoubtedly, at times, disagree over policy decisions. But disagreements should not adversely affect our mutual interests -- including restarting the peace process between Israel and her neighbors and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," they wrote.