Ackerman slams settlements, Israeli attitudes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Settler "pogroms," settlement building and Israeli intransigence are joined with Palestinian terrorism in a "downward spiral," a top U.S. Jewish congressman said.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee, made clear in a subcommittee hearing Thursday that he was not trying to draw a moral equivalence between Israeli hard-liners and Palestinian terrorists, "but they are all part of the same destructive dynamic."

In his opening statement, Ackerman described "downward pressure" that "comes from terrorism and the march of settlements. It comes from the firing of rockets and the perpetration of settler pogroms. It comes in daily images of destruction and the constant reiteration that ‘they only understand the language of force.’ "

The "settler pogroms" apparently are a reference to attacks by Hebron settlers on Arabs in December after Israel evacuated settlers from a building.

Ackerman went on to say, "It comes from tunnels in Gaza and, yes, from digging in Jerusalem as well."

Hamas uses tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip-Egypt border to smuggle in rockets it has fired on Israel. Palestinians have complained that a number of building projects in Jerusalem encroach on Arab neighborhoods.

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