AIPAC-backed letter gets 329 House signatures


WASHINGTON (JTA) — More than three-quarters of the House of Representatives signed an AIPAC-backed letter to President Obama on Middle East peace.

The document, signed by 329 members of Congress, calls for "every effort" to be made to realize an Arab-Israeli peace while laying out certain "basic principles" to achieve it.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) spearheaded the letter since its introduction earlier this month. A similar letter in the U.S. Senate garnered 76 signatures.

Among the principles laid out by the House letter is that "the parties themselves must negotiate the details of any agreement" and that the United States 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."

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 who did not.

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