71 senators sign AIPAC-backed letter

Seventy-one senators signed an AIPAC-backed letter to President Barack Obama supporting his effort to encourage Arab states to normalize relations with Israel.

The letter, circulated by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and James Risch (R-Idaho), was signed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) but not by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The letter notes recent measures taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu to advance the peace process, and urges Arab leaders to take similar steps to demonstrate their commitment to Mideast peace.

Americans for Peace Now and other left-wing Jewish groups, including J Street and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, had urged senators not to sign the letter unless the language was amended to include mention of steps that all parties in the Middle East need to take toward peace — especially Israel’s need to stop settlement construction.

Besidess Boxer, the letter was signed by only five of the 13 other Jewish senators — Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). — jta