Congressional appropriators voiced doubts about some aspects of
Obama's speech. But the most pointed criticism was from the GOP.
'Obama has thrown Israel under the bus,' Mitt Romney said.
Just three days after the Treasury announced that the United
States had hit its own debt limit, President Obama proposed
relieving a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt - a tough
political sell to Americans struggling with their own debt burdens,
and problematic, but not out of reach, for appropriators on Capitol
"Every 6,000 years you get an opportunity to create a democracy
in Egypt, and you ought to take it," says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of
South Carolina, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
To take the issue to American taxpayers at "at a time when South
Carolina is flat broke" is a risk, he adds, but one he says he is
willing to take. "The president captured the moment in which we
live. These are historic times."
A much tougher sell will be the president's call Thursday for
Israel to negotiate a return to pre-1967 borders, just five days
before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint
session of Congress while on his visit to Washington.
"The international community is tired of an endless process that
never produces an outcome," the president said in his much
anticipated Middle East policy address at the State Department. "The
dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with
Several GOP presidential contenders slammed Mr. Obama's comments
on Israel. "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus," said
former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in a statement. "He has
disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace."
Congressional Republicans picked up similar themes. "The
president's reference to pre-1967 borders as the basis for peace
undermines our ally Israel's negotiating position, demonstrates
insensitivity to the security threats Israel faces on a daily basis,
and ignores the historical context that has shaped the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict for more than 60 years," said freshman Sen. Pat
Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania, in a statement.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) of Florida, who chairs the House
Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the president for imposing
"new pressure on Israel to make concessions on its borders," without
calls on Palestinian leaders to recognize Israel's right to exist as
a Jewish state.
Top Democrats defended the president's approach. "This speech was
not intended to be a comprehensive statement on all aspects of
Israeli-Palestinian relations or US relations with both parties,"
said Rep. Howard Berman (D) of California, the top Democrat on the
House Foreign Affairs Committee. "For example, I have full
confidence that the administration would veto a unilateral
Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council," he added.
Mr. Obama also affirmed US commitments to Israel's security,
including assurances that the US will continue to stand against
attempts to single out Israel for criticism in international forums.
"Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if
Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. …