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From sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu Fri Apr 19 13:00:09 2002
From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
Subject: Lieberman asks Senate to support Sharon/ Bush calls Sharon Man of Peace/ and then there's Adam Shapiro...
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 12:49:53 -0400


Senate Unlikely To Pass Pro-Israel Gesture

By David Lightman, The Hartford Courant, 19 April 2002

WASHINGTON -- For the past week, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., and others have been trying to push a resolution or some tougher measure that would put the Senate on record in support of Israel.

It's not likely to happen.

Lieberman is expected to formally introduce a resolution today expressing strong Senate backing for Israel. And although most of his colleagues will probably agree with the intent, they are not eager to debate or vote on the matter.

Also unlikely to get far is a plan from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who introduced Thursday the Arafat Accountability Act, aimed at sending Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a strong message that this country is ready to act against him.

His leadership has been marked by repeated failures, McConnell said on the Senate floor, failure to forcefully denounce and terminate the spree of horrific homicide bombings, failure to serve as a credible and reliable partner in peace. ...

But McConnell said that he would not push for a vote anytime soon.

There are three main reasons for this reluctance to make such congressional views official.

First, members said, it's unnecessary.

A resolution would be fine, but everyone already knows we support Israel, said Sen. Charles H. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Sen. Patrick V. Leahy, D-Vt., said that he found it more effective to make my points to the secretary of state personally.

Second, there is concern that should the Democrat-controlled Senate somehow go on record saying or even hinting something contrary to the Bush administration policy, it would have the potential to undermine U.S. peace efforts.

It's one thing to criticize the president, as some lawmakers have done, for waiting too long to get engaged in the Middle East; it's another thing to vote on it.

I'm one of these guys who's deferential to the executive branch on the conduct of foreign policy, said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas. The president of the United States has a good team. We ought to protect and encourage them.

A third problem is a fear that such resolutions will provoke the Arab world or at least provide a disincentive for cooperation.

One senator whom Arab American interests tend to see as evenhanded is Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. What's important, Specter said, is not that the Senate votes on a statement, but that it gives support to do whatever it takes to keep the dialogue going between Israelis and Palestinians.

I wouldn't want to do anything that could be seen as interfering with negotiations, said Sen. John B. Breaux, D-La.

This is hardball, the ultimate hardball, added Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., of the just-ended mission of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. We have to be very careful.

Lieberman has had a surprisingly bumpy road since he began floating the idea of a resolution last week. Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., issued a gentle warning.

I'm not asking people to hold their tongues, he said, but I do believe that it is important ... for us to be very sensitive to any misunderstanding which could come about as a result of statements made or actions taken.

On Tuesday, Daschle said that a resolution should only come up at the appropriate time, and on Thursday, he said that although he did not discourage the introduction of a resolution, There's a difference between offering the resolution and having the debate publicly on the Senate floor.

In the House, Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., was more direct: I don't think that we ought to be going forward with any actions or resolutions right now, he said Thursday.

We don't want to complicate the president's job, said John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Lieberman and others are persisting.

They feel that going on the record in support of Israel, or in some cases strongly against the Palestinians, is the right thing to do. Although they do not want to undercut the administration, they believe it's important for American lawmakers to make a strong expression of what they see as just.

That's why Lieberman has been unusually public in recent days on the Mideast. A week ago, he introduced former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, known as one of that country's leading hard-liners, to a group of fellow senators.

On Sunday, he used his address to the Florida State Democratic Conference to sharply criticize the White House's demand that Israel withdraw its troops from the West Bank.

This week, he has not relented on his desire to get fellow senators to join him in some kind of statement, and he plans to formally make his proposal today.

I just think it's a moment for Congress to speak out, Lieberman said.