NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Israeli soldier’s lives were in grave danger when they were beaten, stabbed and thrown from the upper-deck of the Gaza flotilla ship.
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Knives, axes and other weapons were found onboard so-called “humanitarian aid ship.”

Congress Affirms Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

More than three-quarters of the House and the Senate signed bipartisan letters to President Obama that affirm America's support for Israel and call on the president to back its right to self-defense at the United Nations and other international organizations.

The letters, which received 338 signatories in the House and 87 signatories in the Senate, also state that the United States should stand with Israel because it is in America's “national security interest,” and express support for Israel's right to self-defense in the wake of the Gaza flotilla incident.

The House letter was led by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gary Peters (D-MI). The Senate letter was spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The letters come in the aftermath of relentless international criticism of Israel’s handling of the Gaza flotilla.

The main organizer of the flotilla was the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), an oraganization supported by the Turkish government, which has publicly affirmed its links to Hamas, maintains an office in Gaza and has been linked to other terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda.

As the House letter points out, “The several dozen who attacked the Israeli soldiers were not peaceful aid workers, but extremists who sought to aid the Iran-backed terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza. Days before, as broadcast on al-Jazeera, they proclaimed their willingness to be martyrs for the destruction of Israel, revealing a sinister element of premeditated violence.”

“We are deeply concerned about the IHH’s role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas,” the Senate letter notes. “The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.”

The Senate letter goes on to recommend that the Obama administration consider putting the IHH on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Another central component of the two letters is a call for the president to stand up for Israel in international forums, such as the United Nations, and to veto any one-sided U.N. Security Council resolutions. “We urge you to continue to use U.S. influence and, if necessary, veto power to prevent any biased or one-sided resolutions from passing,” the House letter states. The Senate letter includes similar language.

Leaders of the House letter praised the overwhelming bipartisan support it garnered, noting that it demonstrates the robust strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

“I would like to thank my colleague Rep. Peters for his leadership and the overwhelming support we have received in Congress on this important issue,” said Rep. Poe. The letter sends “an unmistakable message that the United States must make it clear to Israel and the rest of the world that Israel had the absolute right to defend itself in this situation and support Israel’s blockade.”

Rep. Peters echoed his sentiments. “Israel needs to know that its ally the United States does and will always stand firmly in support of Israel’s right to self-defense,” he said. “I am pleased that 338 members of Congress have joined me in signing this bipartisan letter supporting Israel’s right to self defense and asking President Obama to continue to use U.S. influence to prevent anti-Israeli bias.” BACK TO TOP