Wexler: U.S. must reach out to Israeli people


Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) says the United States needs to pay more attention to Israeli public opinion as it works for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

"We need to understand that we ignore Israeli public opinion to our own detriment," said Wexler during an appearance at the Center for American Progress. "Because in order for us, along with the Israeli leadership, to create the political dynamic that allows" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "take risks," said Wexler, "we’ve got to do it from the bottom up. He runs for re-election, too."

Wexler, one of President Obama’s earliest supporter in the Jewish community during the presidential campaign, said he felt there had been too much attention on an Israeli settlement freeze, but also said that he expected an agreement on settlements to be announced in the next few weeks that would be "the biggest concession that any Israeli prime minister has ever made" on that issue.

"I’m glad on one level that Prime Minister Netanyahu received a victory last week" when Obama "moved a bit to his position by moving to these discussions without preconditions" because that will "enable him to give a little bit more on the issue of settlements now," he said.

Overall, Wexler was praised the administration’s efforts in the Middle East, emphasizing the importance of Obama’s attempts to get the wider Arab world involved and his desire to get all sides to "break out of the box, do something bold and take a step for peace that may cause you some challenge at home."

He also praised Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s two-year plan to build the institutions and infrastructure of a Palestinian state, and said the United States "ought to get behind it" and support it poliitcally.

Wexler also said, in response to a question, that the Goldstone report was a "farce" because it "analyzes the Israelis’ response to the aggression by Hamas without explaining the context of the aggression of Hamas."

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