Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren
Nancy Pelosi - Gilad Shalit dog tags
WASHINGTON – Fashionably late, senior White House and Congress officials, diplomats, military attaches and Jewish community leaders gathered Thursday night at a reception held by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to salute the State of Israel on its 63rd day of Independence.
A total of 1,000 people came to offer their congratulations, including minority leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi who had just returned from a visit to Israel with a congressional delegation.
Pelosi showed the guests dog tags carrying the name and ID number of captive soldier Gilad Shalit and said that she presented the tags wherever she travelled to, showing them to the king of Saudi Arabia, Syria's president and Lebanon's prime minister.
In addition to senior national security official Dennis Ross and future Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, other guests included veteran astronaut Buzz Aldrin and astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Jewish House of Representatives member Gabrielle Giffords who was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January.
On Wednesday, Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren published an op-ed in the LA Times. Oren wrote that "Israel does not object to Palestinian unity. On the contrary, we want to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that speaks for its people in both the West Bank and Gaza."
Oren quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said he was willing to negotiate with anyone who wants peace and added: "The inclusion of Hamas in the Palestinian leadership would seem to put a stop to the already stagnant peace process, but there are still ways to revive it.
"Under the leadership of the United States and Europe, the international community can uphold the criteria for participation in the process: no terror, recognition of Israel and acceptance of all previous accords."
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