For the second time in a week, an AIPAC-backed letter has achieved more than 75 percent support from a congressional body. Today, it is 329 members of the House of Representatives who signed a missive to President Obama calling for "every effort" to be made to realize Arab-Israeli "peace at the soonest possible time" while laying out certain "basic principles" to achieve it.
The document was spearheaded by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and introduced at the start of May. A similar letter in the Senate garnered 76 signatures.
Among the principles the letter lays out is that "the parties themselves must negotiate the details of any agreement" and that the U.S. must "work closely with our democratic ally, who will be taking the greatest risks in any peace agreement."
"The proven best way forward is to work closely and privately together both on areas of agreement and especially on areas of disagreement," states the missive, adding that the U.S. must be both a trusted mediator and a devoted friend to Israel."
The letter also insists on an "absolute Palestinian commitment to end violence, terror and incitement" and urges "far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in supporting moderate Palestinians." The full letter can be read here, and the list of signatories can be read here.
Twenty-nine of the 31 Jewish members of the House signed the letter — Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.) were the two Jewish members who did not.
Both Frank and Filner were endorsed in the last election by J Street, which has backed a different letter in the House supporting the president’s peace efforts but taking an opposite position on the key issue of U.S. involvement. That document states that "American leadership is essential to achieving meaningful progress. Left to themselves, the parties have been unable to make the necessary progress toward ending the conflict, and an American helping hand is now needed to bridge those gaps."
The three sponsors of that letter in the House — Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.) — also signed on to the AIPAC-backed letter.