GOP Leads Backlash against Obama; Democrats Uneasy
Republican Party leaders attacked the Obama administration Monday with unusually harsh language, charging it with an "irresponsible” position against an ally. "In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends,” said the GOP’s only Jewish Republican Congressman, Eric Cantor of Virginia.
He went so far as to say that the dispute "jeopardizes America's national security."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken the heat for the current crisis that erupted when a government minister announced the approval of the fourth of seven stages for building new homes for Jews in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood. Totally Jewish, it is located in a part of Jerusalem that was restored to Israel in the Six Day War when Jerusalem was reunited, but not recognized as such by the United States.
The initial media and political blows were delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who apologized to visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden for the timing of the announcement with his arrival that was aimed at promoting American-mediated talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel for a new PA state.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed up with an unprecedented and scathing public attack on the Prime Minister. Republican legislators did not miss a beat as most political commentators stated that Clinton ”over-reacted.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, charged that the Obama government’s condemnations of "an indispensable ally and friend of the United States…undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike.
She noted that President Obama has taken "softer approaches" towards the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Iran.
Senator Sam Brownback’s office stated, “It' is hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace."
Democrats also are uneasy over the crisis, which comes only eight months before Congressional elections. Polls have shown that President Obama’s political stature is sinking.
Laura Rozen of Politico.com wrote on Monday that Democratic legislators are looking for some kind of political leadership from U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who is a former senator and is President Obama’s ”make-or-break” representative in the PA-Israeli struggle.
She quoted a senior Democratic foreign policy leader as saying that the failure of top Obama officials and Mitchell to make contact with Congressman is the “the same exact mistake of the first two Clinton years with majorities in both Houses. You'd think they would have learned the lesson of 'never take your allies for granted' at least after this year."
Veteran Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told Rozen, "The tree they're up on this one is very tall. Paradoxically, it may be up to Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] to help them climb down."