Casey, Senators Urge President Obama to Underscore Strong Support for Israel During UN General Assembly

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, and 13 other U.S. Senators today called on President Obama to issue a strongly worded defense of Israel during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. 

In a letter, the Senators highlighted a number of recent, troubling developments in the Middle East, including the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, anti-Israeli rhetoric from Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, and efforts to isolate Israel by unilaterally advancing a resolution on Palestinian statehood at the UN.  The Senators ask that President Obama “utilize the opportunity offered by your address at the United Nations to reaffirm and explain America’s determination to stand by Israel at this difficult hour.”

In addition to Senator Casey, the letter was signed by Senators: Menendez, Lieberman, Kyl, Collins, Gillibrand, Kirk, Blumenthal, Hatch, Cardin, Rubio, Schumer, Isakson, and Coons.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. President:

 As you prepare to address the United Nations General Assembly this week, we write to express our concern about a number of troubling developments in the Middle East that pose difficult challenges for our ally Israel as well as our own regional security interests.

We are deeply disappointed that President Mahmoud Abbas appears determined to scorn your persistent efforts to persuade him to return to the negotiating table with Israel and instead seek unilateral diplomatic action in New York that will only set back the prospects for peace. We are also troubled by the anti-Israeli rhetoric that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has displayed in recent weeks in the wake of the Palmer Report, which is harmful to Turkey’s reputation in the United States, especially when coupled with its reluctance to take any meaningful actions in response to the brutal crackdown in Syria. Lastly, the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo earlier this month by a mob was profoundly unsettling. We commend your immediate and direct engagement with Egyptian authorities to save the lives of the six trapped Embassy personnel.  

 We believe it is imperative for you to speak strongly, forthrightly and publicly about U.S. concerns over these developments. We need to make it clear that we will not tolerate continued threats to Israel by governments or individuals in the region or attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN or other international forums. Violence and unilateralism against Israel will be met with the strongest U.S. opposition.  

Political and physical attacks on Israel pose real dangers to the prospects for building Mideast peace and present the possibility of a region-wide deterioration into violence.  Israel’s real sense of growing isolation will make it much more difficult to move the Mideast in a positive direction. We therefore urge you to utilize the opportunity offered by your address at the United Nations later this month to reaffirm and explain America’s determination to stand by Israel at this difficult hour.

The whole world will be watching and listening when you speak next week at the UN. The world needs to hear unequivocally from you that Israel – our friend, ally, and strategic partner -- is not alone in facing these threats.

We look forward to your response.