Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Menendez Calls Bond with Israel 'Sacrosanct'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Menendez Calls Bond with Israel 'Sacrosanct'

Article excerpt

With a negotiations deadline on a framework for Iran's nuclear program looming, Sen. Bob Menendez reemphasized his view that the United States should stand firm against the Middle Eastern country and pledged his "unwavering" commitment to Israel regardless of who is in power, in remarks that obliquely acknowledged a chasm between the senator and President Obama on foreign policy.

Speaking before about 120 people at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, Menendez focused much of his attention on the Tuesday deadline for negotiations between the United States and Iran and their implications for Israel. But he also touched upon the threat posed by the Islamic State. Menendez spoke for roughly 25 minutes and took a few written questions, none from the media, and did not address the prospect of an indictment from the Department of Justice over his dealings with a longtime friend and eye doctor in Florida.

While rumors over the timing of that indictment have left Menendez on the defense over the last month, the senior New Jersey senator found in Barnert Temple a friendly and supportive audience days before the Jewish holiday of Passover. He was hailed as a "great friend" of Israel who stood by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid criticism by the Obama administration for speaking to Congress weeks before the Israeli election, which Netanyahu won.

"My support for Israel transcends changes in leadership in Washington or Tel Aviv, the White House or Congress," Menendez said. "The fact is that the U.S.-Israel relationship and the security of the Israeli people is far more important than any one person. It is sacrosanct, it is untouchable, it transcends faith or party affiliation or political philosophy."

Menendez acknowledged that he and Obama, both Democrats, "don't always see eye to eye these days." That is not only because Menendez has stood by Netanyahu, but also because he has taken a hard-line approach to Iran over its nuclear program while the president has engaged in discussions to potentially allow it to develop its nuclear capabilities while considering lifting or easing tough sanctions against the second most populous country in the Middle East. …

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