87 senators urge continuation of peace talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Eighty-seven U.S. senators signed a letter urging President Obama to keep the Israelis and Palestinians at the negotiating table.

The letter, initiated by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), thanks Obama for restarting direct peace talks and notes the threat to their success from what it calls "enemies of peace" — Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

The letter, sent Monday, praises Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for sticking with the talks after Hamas terrorists killed four Israelis in the West Bank as the talks were about to be launched Aug. 31.

"We also agree with you that it is critical that all sides stay at the table," the letter says. "Neither side should make threats to leave just as the sides are getting started."

The implied reference is to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has interrupted talks because Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on settlement building.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the senators for signing the letter.

"AIPAC strongly applauds this overwhelming, bipartisan statement supporting these important direct talks, and making crystal clear to President Abbas that staying at the table — without preconditions or threats — is the only path to peace," said Josh Block, the lobby’s spokesman.
 

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