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Obama Faces Democratic Party Backlash on Israel Stance

The unanimous Democratic support for President Obama has cracked in the wake of his drastic change in policy towards Judea and Samaria.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/4/2009, 7:59 AM

Israel News Photo

The unanimous Democratic party support for President Barack Obama has cracked in the wake of his drastic change in policy towards a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. Several Democratic Congressmen have publicly stated opposition to the president’s demand for a halt to all building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

The Obama government also has refused to state if it will honor a commitment by his predecessor George W. Bush, who wrote Israel that facts on the ground dictate that large population centers in Judea and Samaria must remain under Israeli sovereignty.

"I think the president went beyond where I think it was appropriate for us to go in dealing with another democracy," said Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner. "Any conversations about settlements, which are perfectly reasonable, have to be coupled with a sincere effort on the part of the Palestinians."

He told a press conference, "We have to be careful not to cross the line where it sounds like we are exerting the overwhelming pressure that we have at our disposal on our rather isolated ally." Democratic Congressmen Shelley Berkley and Joseph Crowley also were present and backed the statements.

Rep. Berkley stated, "We are very, very concerned that the statements were made so publicly to such a close and strong ally as the state of Israel."

However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer backed President Obama’s policy against any expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The Republican party has been far from silent on the Obama government’s strategy, which will be under close scrutiny as he delivers a major address in Cairo on Thursday to the Muslim world.

Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip, warned that Arab terror “shows no sign of abating” and that “President Obama's insistence that it is in America's best interest to pressure Israel sends the wrong message to the region.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee this week launched a fundraising campaign against President Obama’s increasingly openness to Iran. “Obama and the Democrats believe an unstable country, which has pledged to wipe Israel off the map and is awash with oil, has legitimate needs for nuclear power. Yet, America which continues to see rising energy prices, does not need nuclear power,” the committee stated in an e-mail.

The opposition to the White House is not about to change President Obama’s policies very quickly, if at all, analysts said. George Washington University professor Nathan Brown told the French news agency AFP,

“A popular president with a majority in Congress at the beginning of his term may be in an ideal position -- and, so far, Obama's pressure has been firm but very polite and solely verbal. The real question will be what happens if the Israeli government responds hostilely and Obama tries to follow words with actions."

Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of Congressmen have signed a letter asking the president to tone down his public statements against Israel.