Joel Mowbray

It has been two weeks since Arabs marched on Israel's borders on four sides, yet that media spectacle remains a potent metaphor for the mounting threats facing the tiny Jewish state, from Hezbollah taking over Lebanon to the Hamas-partnered Palestinian government attempting to circumvent peace talks by unilaterally declaring statehood at the United Nations.

The perilous position of Israel was the centerpiece of most discussion for the 10,000-plus participants in Washington last week at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference, the largest annual pro-Israel conference.

President Obama kicked off the conference in damage-control mode, and he finally took a harder line on the terrorist organization Hamas and "clarified" his much-criticized televised speech Thursday in which he called for a return to the 1967 borders (with land swaps) as a basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Although some attendees felt better about Obama's stance afterward, no one appears ready to sit back and simply trust the administration.

For that matter, neither Republican nor Democratic leaders in Congress are waiting to take cues from the administration. Members of both parties are already in high gear with creative legislative approaches to everything from squeezing the Hamas-partnered "unity" government to vigorous efforts to derail the proposed U.N. resolution this September, in which the Palestinians wish to short-circuit peace talks by unilaterally declaring statehood.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, and his Democratic counterpart, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, have introduced a resolution calling on the administration to oppose unilateral Palestinian statehood at the U.N. and to threaten significant diplomatic isolation if an unrepentant Hamas remains in the Palestinian government.

The Cantor-Hoyer resolution was one of the top lobbying items Tuesday when the vast majority of the 10,000-plus AIPAC attendees left the conference at midday and flooded Capitol Hill as citizen lobbyists.

As many inside the Beltway know, resolutions can help set the political tone but they don't actually change policy. To that end, specific proposals to put teeth to the resolution are also being considered, including:

• Deeming financial instruments issued by the new "unity government," such as the recent first-ever Palestinian bond issue, as terror finance.


Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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