07/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Coordinates Attack Against Israeli Settlements

Taegan Goddard reports that President Obama has succeeded in coordinating pressure on Israel to stop building settlements.

For once, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are on the president's side:

It is a disentanglement now seen most clearly in Congress, which in the past served as Israel's stronghold against administration pressure on the issue. But when Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu came to Capitol Hill for a May 18 meeting after being pressed by President Obama to freeze the expansion of West Bank settlements, he was "stunned," Netanyahu aides said, to hear what seemed like a well-coordinated attack against his stand on settlements. The criticism came from congressional leaders, key lawmakers dealing with foreign relations and even from a group of Jewish members. [...]

In their meetings, according to the congressional aide, lawmakers rejected Netanyahu's call for Palestinian reciprocity on terrorism as a precondition and kept pressing him on the need to stop building in settlements.

Of course, some Democratic congressmen are wavering. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said recently that he supported a settlement freeze but not one that "calls on Israeli families not to grow [or] get married. Telling people not to have children is unthinkable and inhumane."

Republicans, however, are intent on using Israel as a "wedge" against the president with Jewish voters, claiming Obama is giving too much credit to the Palestinians. Similar attempts during the election were unsuccessful.

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