- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee chided the Obama administration Tuesday, saying the U.S. support for Israel must go “beyond rhetoric” as she met with Israel’s outspoken foreign minister.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, held talks with Avigdor Lieberman after the Israeli envoy met with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen issued a strongly worded statement of support for Israel, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lieberman said nothing to reporters as they posed for photographs before their closed-door talks.

State Department reporters said Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lieberman talked about the weather during the photo-op, avoiding any public comment on issues ranging from Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program to turmoil throughout the Arab world.

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen pledged her unequivocal support for Israel and criticized Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for signing a deal with the militant Hamas group to end a long-standing rivalry between the two groups.

“As we meet with the Foreign Minister of Israel, Palestinian leader [Abbas] is preparing to form a government together with Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

“The Iranian regime is continuing to race toward nuclear weapons capabilities, as the ‘Supreme Leader’ again calls for Israel’s destruction,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen added.

“At this critical time, we must support our ally Israel and stand strongly and unequivocally with Israel in addressing the threats to both our nations.

“Supporting Israel goes beyond rhetoric. It means holding the Palestinian Authority accountable for its violations of its commitments, and it means applying crippling sanctions and other pressure to stop Iran before it achieves a breakout nuclear capability.”

Earlier this week, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen criticized the agreement between the Palestinian Authority, which only controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which calls for the annihilation of Israel.

“By forming a government with Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, [Mr. Abbas] and company have again chosen the path of extremism and rejectionism.”

She called on the White House to stop treating Mr. Abbas as a “partner for peace.”

“The administration must stop pretending that the PA [Palestinian Authority] is something it is not,” she said. “It’s time for the administration to hold the PA accountable for its actions.”


European and Arab nations Tuesday followed the U.S. lead and recalled their ambassadors from Syria to protest the bloody ongoing onslaught against unarmed anti-government demonstrators.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Valero said Paris recalled its envoy because of the “worsening repression being carried out by the Damascus regime” of President Bashar Assad.

Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain also announced a recall of their ambassadors. Germany said it will not replace its ambassador, who returned to Berlin last month to take up a post as Germany’s ambassador to the European Union.

Six Arab nations also joined the diplomatic exodus from Syria.

“Nearly a year into the crisis, there is no glint of hope in a solution,” the Gulf Cooperation Council said, as it announced the withdraw of the ambassadors from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States on Monday closed its embassy and recalled Ambassador Robert Ford and his staff.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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