August 13, 2009

Gillibrand, Senators Requesting Obama Administration To Continue Pressure on Arab Leaders To Improve Relations With Israel, Resume Mideast Peace Process

Senators Call for An End to Propaganda Campaigns Which Demonize Israel, Hold Saudi Government Accountable for their Pledge to Revise Hate Texts

Washington, D.C. - After a number of Arab countries rejected U.S. appeals to do more to improve relations with Israel, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with her Senate colleagues, asked President Obama what the next steps are to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and what he anticipates from Arab states. Senators encouraged leaders to halt the Arab League boycott of Israel and end the propaganda campaigns that degrade Jews.

In a letter to President Obama, the lawmakers wrote, "We would like to understand what steps you are urging Arab states to take and what your expectations are from Arab states in the coming weeks and months."

In a separate letter to Secretary of State Clinton, lawmakers asked that the Saudi government be held accountable in their pledge to revise their hate-filled textbooks. Senator Gillibrand and Senators wrote, "As Saudi academies around the world commence plans for the 2009-2010 school year, we should hold the Saudi government accountable for their pledges. We urge you to embark on a public assessment of the steps the Saudis have taken to curb the export of anti-religious incitement, as well as review the textbooks they have used during the 2008-2009 year inside Saudi Arabia."

Senator Gillibrand said, "I applaud President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their commitment to helping achieve a secure, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.  While the U.S. must play a leading role in helping Israel and the Palestinians achieve a final settlement, the neighboring states are key to building an atmosphere of peace. Egypt and Jordan as well as other countries in the region have built a peace with Israel. Those improved relations benefit those countries, as well as the goal of peace.  Seven years ago, Saudi Arabia offered a plan for moving the peace forward. While it was reaffirmed again in 2007 by Arab states, it is time for tangible steps that will demonstrate to Israel and the rest of the world that the Arab states will strongly support a settlement."