Tags: senate | obama | arabs | letter

Senate Tells Obama to Press Arabs, Not Israel

Monday, 10 Aug 2009 09:00 PM

President Barack Obama should press Arab leaders for "dramatic gestures" on behalf of Middle East peace, an overwhelming majority of US senators said in a letter made public on Monday.

"We would like to understand what steps you are urging Arab states to take and what your expectations are from Arab states in the coming weeks and months," more than 70 of the 100 senators said in the message to the president.

"We also hope that you will continue to press Arab leaders to consider dramatic gestures toward Israel similar to those taken previously by brave leaders like King Hussein of Jordan and Anwar El-Sadat of Egypt."

They were referring to Sadat's historic 1977 visit to Jerusalem and the king's opening of direct Jordan-Israel ties.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both signed the message, which was drafted by Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.

The letter came as Israel's ultra-nationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warned against attempting to impose a Middle East peace deal, saying the most peace talks can achieve for the coming year is improving security and the Palestinian economy.

The US lawmakers also urged Arab leaders to end the Arab League boycott of Israel, meet openly with Israeli officials, boost trade relations with Israel, issue visas to Israeli citizens and invite Israelis to take part in academic and professional conferences, as well as sporting events.

"We also believe that Arab states must immediately and permanently end official propaganda campaigns which demonize Israel and Jews," they wrote.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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