JERUSALEM, Israel – Rep. Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday urged a delegation of visiting ambassadors to vote at the United Nations according to their democratic values instead of voting reflexively against Israel.
Earlier this week, Hoyer, who is in Israel leading a mission of 26 Democrats organized by AIPAC, spoke to 18 visiting diplomats from four continents who are on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“The issue (at the UN) is not siding with the United States of America. The issue is reflecting values that you adhere to within your own countries,” Hoyer said.
He said that a push by Palestinian leaders to win unilateral recognition on statehood from the United Nations General Assembly next month could destabilize the entire region and set back hopes of a negotiated peace.
“It would be a negative action and we believe it will undermine the opportunity for a peaceful positive agreement,” Hoyer told the 18 ambassadors and one senior diplomat who are on the third day of a five-day trip organized by The Israel Project, an American non-profit educational organization that provides facts, analysis and background information about Israel and the Middle East to the media, public officials and the public. Hoyer noted that he was speaking on behalf of at least 400 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives.
Too often, Hoyer said, democratic countries at the U.N. sided with authoritarian regimes that orchestrated a continuous stream of anti-Israeli resolutions without thinking through the consequences.
The ambassadors heard a similar message from Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister urged the group not to support the resolution which Palestinian leaders are expected to bring to the United Nations General Assembly next month, saying that it could seriously damage the peace process and make future negotiations much more difficult. If supported by the General Assembly, Netanyahu said, the resolution would lock future Palestinian leaders into extreme positions and make it very difficult for them to make the needed compromises for peace with Israel.
The diplomats, many of whom had never been to Israel, also met on Monday with President Shimon Peres and Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon. As the Ledger went to press, the group, representing nations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, were also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah as well as Sir Ronald Cohen of the Portland Trust, a British non-profit which promotes Palestinian economic development. Meetings were also planned with entrepreneurs and innovators in the fields of alternative energy, agriculture, medicine and environmental services. A visit is also planned to Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), which since 1958 has provided development training to more than 200,000 people from around the world. The ambassadors will also learn about Israel’s humanitarian programs that respond to natural disasters around the world and explore opportunities for bilateral trade.
The countries represented by the diplomats on the mission included: Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Liberia, Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Slovakia, St. Lucia, Timor-Leste, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda.
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