US lawmaker urges Palestinians to drop UN bid

JERUSALEM- A leading US Democrat on Wednesday said that Congress was united in its opposition to a Palestinian bid for UN membership and called for a speedy resumption of peace talks with Israel.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was speaking during a visit to Israeli President Shimon Peres at the head of a delegation of 26 Democratic lawmakers.

"We believe that the only way to achieve peace is through a negotiation process where the parties come to the table without preconditions and we would hope that would happen in the very near future," Hoyer said in remarks broadcast on Israeli public radio.
"As you know we have a lot of partisan differences in our Congress today, but there is real value and centrality on the policies of the United States towards Israel and there is little if any partisan difference in the Congress on the issue of Israel," Peres's office quoted Hoyer as saying.
"We believe the Palestinians would be making an error seeking UN recognition now before negotiations. We urge the Palestinians and the Israelis to return to the table without preconditions."
At a press conference later, after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hoyer said that US financial woes would not affect its aid to Israel, currently around $3 billion annually.
"No financial challenges which confront the United States... will have any adverse effect on America's determination to meet its promise to Israel in the form of aid for its qualitative (military) superiority or for its economic security," he said.
The delegation is on a week-long visit for talks with "Israeli and Palestinian leaders, military officials, academics, journalists and everyday citizens," a press release on their visit said.
The trip is sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the powerful US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
The foundation is also organising later this month visits by 56 top Republican lawmakers.

Thursday, August 11th 2011

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