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Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman on Israel

Friends and colleagues John McCain and Joe Lieberman went to the floor of the U.S. Senate to discuss the Obama offensive against Israel. McCain kicked things off asking (from a rough transcript) if it really helps to “have public disparagement by the secretary of state, by the president’s political adviser on the Sunday shows,” and whether it wouldn’t be better to “lower the dialogue, talk quietly among friends, and work together towards the mutual goals that we share.” Lieberman responded:

[The U.S.-Israel relationship is] one of the strongest, most important, most steadfast bilateral alliances we have in the world because it is not based on the temporal, that is matters that come and go, or politics and diplomacy. It’s based on shared values, shared strategic interests in the world and unfortunately now on the fact that the United States and the Israelis are also targets of the Islamic extremists, the terrorists who threaten the security of so much of the world.

Lieberman then went on to explain that a “bureaucratic mistake” was allowed to become a “major, for the moment, source of division” between the U.S. and Israel. He continued that this is “an area of Jerusalem that is today mostly Jewish” and that while the Israeli government contends that Jews have the right to build and live anywhere in its eternal capital, “this particular part of Jerusalem is in most anybody’s vision of a possible peace settlement going to be part of Israel.”

Lieberman then questioned why the initial flap was allowed to continue on the Sunday talk shows. Singling out David Axelrod, he noted that calling it an “affront” serves nobody’s interests. From there, McCain said the escalation “may be giving the impression to the wrong people, the neighbors of Israel have stated time after time that they are bent on Israel’s extinction.” McCain then praised Hillary Clinton – who, he says, knows all of this too well. (Hmm, are there some Obami tensions to be exploited?) After some niceties about Clinton and Biden, Lieberman was not about to let the State Department off the hook, noting that the Friday news conference in which the Clinton-Bibi conversation was related to the public only served to “dredge up again something that had been calmed and ought to be calmed.” McCain then criticized the administration’s focus on a unilateral settlement freeze, and Lieberman concurred, noting that the focus should be on peace negotiations without preconditions and on the Iran nuclear threat. Lieberman concluded: “It’s time to lower our voices, get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interest but out enemies.”

It was as compelling and informed a discussion on the subject as you’re going to hear in Washington. But the question remains: why did Obama feel compelled to do this, and who is really running foreign policy? Perhaps these are good subjects for congressional oversight hearings.



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