JERUSALEM - In an open letter, the America-Israel Friendship League voices its concern over relations.
The America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) has sent an open letter to US President Barack Obama in concern over what it calls “deteriorating relations that appear to be developing” between the US and Israel.
The organization affirmed Obama’s commitment to relations between the two countries. But it urged the US president to reconsider his apparent intention of pressing Israel to abandon its longstanding Jerusalem policy, particularly regarding construction there, as a precondition to talks with the Palestinians.
The AIFL stressed the special “unbroken” link and place of Jerusalem in the tradition of Israel and Jews worldwide, and noted that Israel’s policy was to continue construction activities in the capital, as it has been doing for the past 40 years. The organization stated that such construction had not encumbered previous negotiations with the Palestinians nor peace treaties achieved between Israel and its neighbors during that period. Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem, it wrote, was recognized in the 2004 agreement between former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former US President George W. Bush, which “[Obama’s] administration has apparently decided not to recognize.”
The AIFL acknowledged the “poor timing” of Israel’s announcement of Jerusalem construction during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, but wrote that it did not justify the “public criticism” of Israel nor an apparent attempt to “humiliate its prime minister,” suggesting that such matters have to be resolved “as befitting close allies.”
Both Democrats and Republicans on the AIFL board were “distressed by the actions of the [US] government in this very public shaming of Israel,” especially in light of the current “concerted campaign” by its enemies to de-legitimize Israel’s existence.
Obama’s actions, the AIFL stated, “were not in line with our values.” America’s alignment with the Arab league’s position regarding Jerusalem “reflects an unjustified change in the US Mideast policy.” According to the AIFL, any changes in Israel’s position regarding Jerusalem should only come in the course of direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
The organization questioned whether Israel’s failure to follow US policy would lead to any withdrawal of US diplomatic or material assistance to Israel. It suggested that such actions “could provide our common enemies with succor,” as well as encourage hatred and incitement of Israel and Jews.
At a time of “unparalleled challenges” faced by the world from Iran, “this is not a time to exacerbate any real or perceived slights.”
The organization also raised the question of the US’s image among its allies. “If Israel can be disdained with such ease, what does this say about the US and its steadfastness with its other allies?” the letter asks.
The AIFL called on the Obama administration to engage in “an exchange of ideas” on the issues of Mideast peace and Israel’s security.
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