Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sen. Specter (D-PA): The U.S. accepted the ten month moratorium with caveats that excluded E.Jerusalem

(YWN, Worldnewsvine).On the United States Senate floor yesterday, Senator Arlen Specter expressed disagreement with the way the US is handling the recent events surrounding the announcement of 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem. He questioned if all the facts were known and warned about condemning the Israelis without further investigation of the facts.

Senator Specter’s comments follow, in full:

Madam President, I have sought recognition to comment on the current controversy between the United States and Israel on the settlement issue.

Before the current controversy between the United States and Israel escalates further, I suggest all parties cool the rhetoric, avoid public recriminations, determine exactly what happened and consider some fundamental questions.

What are the facts? It has been reported that there are 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem in violation of Israeli commitments. Authoritative sources insist that the announcement by a mid-level official at the Ministry of the Interior involved only planning subject to judicial review with no groundbreaking for three years. Another report said U.S. officials extracted a secret promise from Prime Minister Netanyahu not to allow provocative steps in East Jerusalem. Is it true that the United States accepted the ten month moratorium on settlements with caveats that excluded Ease Jerusalem in line with the insistence by Israeli officials dating back to Prime Minister Golda Meir that Jerusalem was under Israeli exclusive sovereignty?

It is conceded that Prime Minister Netanyahu was blindsided by the announcement. It is further acknowledged that the Israeli Minister of the Interior is a member of the ultra-conservative Shas party whose participation is essential to the continuation of a coalition government.

These matters need to be thought through before public pronouncements could significantly damage the U.S.-Israeli relationship and give aid and comfort to the enemies of the Mideast peace process.

The rock solid alliance between the United States and Israel has withstood significant disagreements for six decades. The mutual interests which bind these two countries together have always been stronger than the most substantial differences. The United States needs to respect Israeli security interests understanding that Israel cannot lose a war and survive. The United States has many layers of defense to protect our security interests and survive.

I suggest that if we all take a few deep breaths, think through the pending questions and reflect on the importance of maintaining U.S.-Israeli solidarity, we can weather this storm.