A few times recently I noted that at least as big a deal as what happened during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the White House was what happened when he went to Captiol Hill, looking for support to resist Obama’s call for a real freeze on settlements.
This comes from an article in Ha-aretz …
But when Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu came to Capitol Hill for a May 18 meeting after being pressed by President Obama to freeze the expansion of West Bank settlements, he was “stunned,” Netanyahu aides said, to hear what seemed like a well-coordinated attack against his stand on settlements. The criticism came from congressional leaders, key lawmakers dealing with foreign relations and even from a group of Jewish members.
They included Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee; California Democrat Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and California Rep. Henry Waxman, a senior Democrat.
The Jewish lawmakers among them believed “it was their responsibility to make him [Netanyahu] very, very aware of the concerns of the administration and Congress,” said a congressional aide briefed on the meeting. The aide, who declined to be identified, stressed that despite the argument on settlement issues, members of Congress remained fully supportive of Israel on all other issues, including the need to deal with Iran and the concern over Hamas and Hezbollah’s activity.
In their meetings, according to the congressional aide, lawmakers rejected Netanyahu’s call for Palestinian reciprocity on terrorism as a precondition and kept pressing him on the need to stop building in settlements.
Meanwhile, the right-leaning Jerusalem Post reports that a “senior administration official” says it’s still possible to strike a deal between the US and Israel on settlements.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.