WASHINGTON – Two prominent US senators call on the US administration to resolve differences with Israel “amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies” in the preamble to a letter thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists will be urging lawmakers to sign this week.
The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.
The conference, which begins Sunday and is expected to attract an unprecedented 7,500 attendees, comes as the US and Israel have been embroiled in their most serious crisis in years.
The diplomatic spat began when the Interior Ministry approved 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem during US Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the country last week. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said he was taken by surprise by the Interior Ministry’s decision, apologized several times. After Biden acknowledged the apology and had returned to Washington, Clinton placed a nearly 45-minute call to Netanyahu registering American displeasure and questioning Israel’s commitment to its relationship with the US due to a move she publicly called an “insult.”
Several Jewish groups and some members of Congress responded by calling
on the US administration to turn down the volume and find a way to
resolve the dispute with Israel. AIPAC took the unusual step of issuing
a public statement calling the incident “a matter of serious concern,”
and urging the administration “to work closely and privately with our
partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any
issues between the two governments.”
AIPAC activists will take to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with
individual legislators at the tail end of the conference and are also
expected to press for swift passage of Iran sanctions and to back
continued aid to Israel.
But the recent tensions have heightened the profile of the letters to
be circulated among members backing the US-Israel relationship and
looking to move forward on the peace process. The Senate letter also
calls on Clinton to “reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between the United
States and Israel.”