Dovish groups back Feinstein peace letter


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dovish pro-Israel groups are lobbying U.S. senators to sign a letter that presses Hillary Clinton to more fully engage in brokering Israel-Palestinian peace.

Americans for Peace Now has rallied support for the letter initiated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and in an email blast this week, J Street called on its membership to lobby senators to sign.

"Now, we can help persuade the Senate to show its support for President Obama’s policy of Middle East engagement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit, and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell on the eve of their visit to the region," the J Street email said.

Clinton and Mitchell are traveling this weekend to the Middle East. The deadline for senators to sign the Feinstein letter was set for Friday afternoon. So far, 32 have signed.

The letter urges Clinton "to use your upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank to underscore your personal commitment, and that of President Obama, to Israel’s security and to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. 

"Both are vital U.S. national security interests that must not be neglected.  The continuing launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the ongoing challenge of formalizing an Israel-Hamas truce, underscore the importance of tenacious American leadership and engagement, now and in the future."

Separately, another dovish pro-Israel group, the Israel Policy Forum, welcomed reports that Clinton will pledge $900 million to rebuilding the Gaza Strip after the war Israel and Hamas fought there in January brought devastation to Gaza.

"Putting an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza and to the rocket attacks on Israel, as well as opening the border crossings to enable reconstruction to commence without bolstering Hamas, will be critical next steps," the IPF said in a statement.

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