Eighty-seven members of the House of Representatives signed a J Street-backed letter to the president calling for "strong American leadership" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflict, but almost half also signed an AIPAC-backed letter stating that "the parties themselves must negotiate the details of any agreement."
Spearheaded by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), the J Street letter was seen as an alternative to the AIPAC-backed letter, which received 329 signatures from House members last week and also urges the president to make "every effort" to achieve peace in the Middle East.
The J Street-backed letter states that "America best serves our historic friendship with Israel when it is actively working to de-escalate conflict and advance peace, and that our relationships throughout the Arab and Muslim world will be strengthened through a negotiated agreement that ends the conflict."
It adds that "Israelis and Palestinians have not been able to achieve peace on their own, and we therefore share your belief 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 letter also calls for "strong consideration" to be given to "pursuing a regional, comprehensive approach to resolving the conflict, such as the Arab Peace Initiative."
Forty-one signatories to the J Street-backed letter, including all three authors, also signed the AIPAC-supported missive. That includes five Jewish members — Democratic Reps. Susan Davis (Calif.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Jared Polis (Colo.), John Yarmuth (Ky.) and Cohen. Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) was the only one of the 31-member Jewish caucus to sign only the J Street letter, while Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) wrote his own letter to the president.
A list of the signatories to the J Street-backed letter is after the jump:[[READMORE]]
Clay, Wm. Lacy
Jackson Lee, Sheila
Kilroy, Mary Jo