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APN Salutes Pelosi's Engagement with Syria; Slams Bush's Intransigence

APN sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thanking her for her diplomatic efforts to engage Syria and explore potential Israel-Syria talks.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 6, 2006
CONTACT: Noam Shelef - (202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C.-Americans for Peace Now (APN) today sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thanking her for her diplomatic efforts to engage Syria and explore potential Israel-Syria talks. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement.

APN sent similar letters to nine other Members of Congress who recently visited Syria, including five Democrats and four Republicans: Tom Lantos (D-CA; Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and David Hobson (R-OH).

The APN letter to Speaker Pelosi, signed by APN Chair Franklin M. Fisher and APN President and CEO Debra DeLee, read:

"On behalf of Americans for Peace Now (APN), we applaud your visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East. In particular, we salute your diplomatic engagement with Syria and your efforts to explore the possibility of Israel-Syria negotiations. We are heartened that Members of Congress from both parties visited both Israel and Syria this week. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement.

"Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly called for direct, unconditional peace negotiations with Israel. As Israel's most important ally and because of America's national security interests, the United States should facilitate Israel-Syria talks. Unfortunately, repeated media reports present an alarming pattern in which the Bush Administration appears to be pressuring Israel to not even talk about peace with Syria. In February, for example, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked by Israeli officials about exploratory talks with Syria, Rice's answer reportedly was: 'Don't even think about.' It is outrageous that the United States would tell Israel that it could not talk peace with its neighbors.

"There are some who view the Syrian regime as irredeemable and favor policies that seek to change the regime, rather than those that seek to change the behavior of the regime. This is a dangerous approach, ignoring the possibility of both failure and unintended consequences - like increased violence on the Israel-Lebanon border. Syria will continue to play a critical role - positive or negative - in a region which is central to U.S. national security. We applaud your efforts to engage Syria diplomatically.

"In Israel the horrors of last summer's war remain vivid. They know that in the absence of peace agreements, it is only a matter of time before the next war. Now is the time to test whether an Israel-Syria peace accord can be reached. We commend your efforts and look forward to your continued courage and leadership as a true friend of Israel."