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U.S. lawmakers talk Palestinian statehood, Iran at Mideast confab

JTA

June 23, 2011 | 3:45 pm

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said supporters of Israel must be prepared for a U.N. General Assembly vote recognizing a Palestinian state in September, saying the Palestinians have “the upper hand” in pushing through such a resolution.

The Palestinians have a solid bloc of allies in the General Assembly, whereas the measure likely will not pass if brought before the U.N. Security Council, Cardin (D-Md.) said June 22 during a speech at a conference here on the Middle East sponsored by The Israel Project.

“We have to be prepared for a U.N. vote that is negative,” Cardin said. “There will be consequences.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) echoed Cardin’s sentiments, stating flatly that a unilateral resolution recognizing a Palestinian state “absolutely cannot happen.”

Berkley said she has been assured privately and through public statements by the Obama administration that the United States will stand with Israel if such a vote occurs.

“It would be very helpful to us and to Israel if we were not standing there alone,” she said.

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) said the issue of Iran is chief among the Middle East turmoil, calling it “the greatest threat to our own national security in the United States.”

“We cannot lose sight of Iran,” Dold said. “A nuclear-armed Iran is absolutely unacceptable.”

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, also speaking at the conference, said Iran would be a “game changer” if it were to develop nuclear weapons. Kristol likened the possibility to the Cold War, saying it would put Israel and Iran in a “perpetually Cuban Missile Crisis” situation.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said liberals suffer from “the David and Goliath inversion” regarding the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Liberals always root for David, never Goliath,” and automatically believe Israel is the aggressor, Sherman said. “Just because the IDF wears uniforms doesn’t mean they’re wrong.”

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