WASHINGTON – The chairman of a major Republican congressional caucus is urging US President Barack Obama to oppose any UN effort to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.Rep. Tom Price of Georgia wrote Obama on behalf of the 115-member Republican Study Committee on Thursday, asking the president to push back against reports suggesting that Palestinians are considering appealing to the UN rather than negotiating with Israel.RELATED:'Israel may lease east Jerusalem from a Palestinian state'Abbas: PA will ask UN to recognize Palestinian state“Any support for such a measure would create a serious barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” the letter stated.Price also pressed Obama to back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt after Israel refused to extend a freeze on settlements that ended in September and the Palestinians have refused to negotiate without a freeze in place. Netanyahu suggested that he would reinstate a freeze if Palestinians recognized the Jewish nature of the State of Israel.Both Israelis and Palestinians are now watching the US elections before making major moves, and both Democrats and Republicans are seizing on issues connected to Israel to attract Jewish voters.
On Friday, two Jewish Democratic representatives blasted Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is in line to be majority leader should Republicans capture the House on November 2, for suggesting that Israel aid could be separated from the general foreign aid budget and be considered part of defense spending.Cantor made the suggestion in response to concerns in the pro- Israel community that aid to Israel would be cut by a Republican- dominated Congress whose members have made budgettrimming a priority and have raised questions about the size of foreign aid.“It would absolutely isolate aid to Israel,” New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel warned on a conference call arranged by the National Jewish Democratic Council. “Now you would have a bigger and more precise target to go after.”He was joined on the call by Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who attacked the Republican leadership for disrespecting the Holocaust by continuing to support Richard Iott in Ohio despite his participation in World War II reenactments where he took the part of a Nazi soldier.Wasserman Schultz criticized “the shocking indifference that the Republicans have to trivialization of the Holocaust.”In one race in which Israel issues have featured prominently, however, a new poll by J Street found that the focus on the Jewish state had not significantly moved voters.Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who has received $70,000 from J Street, is trying to fend off Republican Joel Pollak, who has spent around a half million dollars on his campaign. He has attacked her positions on Israel, particularly the support she has received from J Street, a self-described “pro-Israel, propeace” lobby.Though he has a slim chance of defeating Schakowsky on election day, the J Street poll showed that Jewish voters were still backing her by 65 percent to 23%.When asked whether the criticism leveled against Schakowsky on her Israel record affected their support for the candidates, 36% of the 400 Jewish registered voters interviewed said it made them more likely to support Schakowsky, and only 21% said they were more likely to back Pollak as a result.