May 20, 2009

CARDIN: ENCOURAGING MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU REAFFIRMS SHARED US-ISRAEL PRIORITIES

Senator also introduces resolution urging action on Holocaust Era Assets

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, parti cipated today in a Senate meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Senator Cardin previously met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in February, days after Israel's national election, as the government coalition was being finalized.

 

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's Washington visit underscores two issues of critical importance to the achieving peace in the Middle East: restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. 

 

"First, it was encouraging today to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu's willingness to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions. Sincere, direct negotiations are essential to achieve a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would allow two economically viable states to live side-by-side in peace and security.  We are at a crossroads of history. The challenges Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas face are well known, but there is real cause for optimism.  President Obama is committed to facilitating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas will work to achieve a lasting peace. 

  

"Second, Iran's leaders will remain isolated unless they act in the best interest of their people and abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Today's meeting reaffirmed a shared commitment of the United States and Israel that we will not accept a nuclear Iran. We continue to seek a diplomatic resolution, but President Obama's diplomatic overtures have placed the ball squarely in Iran's court." 

 

Holocaust Era Assets Considered

 

Also today, Senator Cardin introduced a Concurrent Resolution in support of the goals and objectives of the upcoming Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets. The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member of the SFRC, and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). A similar measure was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Robert Wexler in March (FL-19).

 

"The Holocaust left a scar that will not be removed by the Prague Conference.  But this upcoming gathering provides an opportunity for governments to make tangible and meaningful progress in addressing this painful chapter of history," Senator Cardin said. "I commend the Czech Republic for taking on the leadership of organizing this meeting and urge President Obama to send a high-level U.S. official to represent the United States at the conference."

 

"For over sixty years since the end of World War II, the U.S. and international community have worked to address outstanding Holocaust-era issues. The objective of the Prague Conference is to review the progress in resolving issues discussed at the 1998 Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, and to give new impetus for further international cooperation and action.  This resolution sends an unequivocal message of support to the conference attendees and the Holocaust survivors still seeking remedy for outstanding Holocaust Era issues."