Tags: senators | obama | israel

76 Senators Write to Obama: Israel at Risk

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 07:43 AM

WASHINGTON – A vast majority of US senators on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to mind the "risks" to Israel in any Middle East peace accord as he presses for a two-state solution to the six-decade conflict.

"As we work closely with our democratic ally, Israel, we must take into account the risks it will face in any peace agreement," 76 of the 100 senators wrote Obama in a letter released to reporters.

"Without a doubt, our two governments will agree on some issues and disagree on others, but the United States friendship with Israel requires that we work closely together as we recommit ourselves to our historic role of a trusted friend and active mediator," they wrote.

Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd and Arlen Specter as well as Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and John Thune were the lead authors of the letter, which came one day after Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"While the obstacles are formidable, we agree with you that every effort should be made to realize that peace," the lawmakers wrote Obama.

"We must also continue to insist on the absolute Palestinian commitment to ending terrorist violence and to building the institutions necessary for a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side, in peace with the Jewish state of Israel," they said.

"The more capable and responsible Palestinian forces become, the more they demonstrate the ability to govern and to maintain security, the easier it will be for them to reach an accord with Israel," they said, urging Obama to sustain programs of US security assistance and training for the Palestinians.

The senators also urged Obama to "promote far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in encouraging moderate Palestinian elements."

"Everyone in the region has a stake in the success of these negotiations and should contribute to a lasting and comprehensive resolution," they wrote.

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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