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Senator Schumer: Settlements No Obstacle to Peace

Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state, not Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, is the obstacle to Middle East peace, senator says.
By Israel News staff
First Publish: 10/31/2010, 7:27 PM / Last Update: 10/31/2010, 7:36 PM

Baruch Gordon

Senator Chuck (Charles) Schumer took the Obama administration to task for its Middle East policy on Sunday. What Obama must realize is that Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state, and not Israelis in Judea and Samaria, is the obstacle to peace, he said.

“My basic view is very simple,” Schumer told his audience at the Agudath Yisrael breakfast in New York. “The reason we don't have peace in the Middle East is because a large percentage, I would say the majority.... of Palestinians and Arabs do not believe there should be a Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East. Period.”

U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to criticize Israel over construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria was “counterproductive,” he said. America's position on Jewish communities was “to the left of the PA” at one point, he added. Schumer noted that he made his objections known at the time, both in private meetings and publicly.

“Anyone who thinks the settlements are the cause of the problem, all they have to do is look at Gaza,” he said. Israel withdrew from Gaza completely, “and what was the response? Missiles on Sderot!” Schumer recalled.

What Obama and America should do for peace is to make it known that America's ties with Israel cannot be broken, he said. “By giving the Palestinian and the Arab world hope that they can break the tie between the U.S. and Israel, you don't further the cause of peace, you set back the cause of peace... If they think the tie is immutable, they will say, well maybe we should throw in the towel and have some kind of peace with Israel. It's that simple.” 

While it is possible to hold any one of a variety of views regarding Israel-PA negotiations, “what's unequivocally wrong in my opinion is saying that settlements are the reason there's not peace and there's not talks,” the senator said.

He expressed belief that the Obama's administration's views are changing “in a positive direction,” saying, “We have some very strong allies within the administration.”

Schumer's speech was met with enthusiastic applause.

“Senator Schumer's comments are significant because he has been one of the strongest supporters of Obama's policies both domestically and on foreign issues,” explained Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Vice-President Rubin Margules. “He has always been a strong supporter of Israel, and his pro-settlement statements this morning reflect an emerging change in the attitude of many members of congress who are more vocal in their disagreement with Obama's policies.”