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Ha'aretz & Jerusalem Post Articles on APN's Rabin Event in Los Angeles

Speaking at an Americans for Peace Now luncheon in honor of APN activist and Jewish community leader Irwin Levin, Berman (D-CA) said: "Over the years, I discovered two things: first, I learned that there were indeed many Palestinians who were prepared to accept Israel and who genuinely believe in coexistence. Second, I discovered the immense toll the occupation is taking on Israel."

Ha'aretz: "U.S. congressman: Netanyahu wants to be a peacemaker"

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent Tags: Israel Congress, Israel U.S.

Howard Berman, the influential California congressman and staunch Israel ally, praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making "difficult decisions" since returning to office.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and his colleagues are the ones who have taken the difficult decisions, and for this they deserve more credit than they get," Berman said of the premier, whom the Palestinians blame for derailing peace talks. "I believe [Netanyahu] well understands intellectually what peace requires, and he wants to be a peacemaker."

Berman also warned Tuesday that Jerusalem's continued rule in the West Bank threatens its status as a democratic Jewish homeland. Speaking at an Americans for Peace Now luncheon in honor of APN activist and Jewish community leader Irwin Levin, Berman (D-CA) said: "Throughout my nearly three decades in Congress, and now as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have been preoccupied with issues involving Israel's security and Middle East peace."

"I made my first congressional trip to Israel in 1983," Berman said. "It was then that I began to discern the primary problem Israel would have to face if it maintains its rule over the West Bank and Gaza."

"Either it would eventually have to rule over a disenfranchised Palestinian majority, or if it enfranchises the Palestinians Israel would eventually cease to be Jewish," he said. "I call it the demography-democracy problem. I knew I wanted Israel as a Jewish homeland to be a democracy. That was 1983."

Berman continued: "Over the years, I discovered two things: first, I learned that there were indeed many Palestinians who were prepared to accept Israel and who genuinely believe in coexistence. Second, I discovered the immense toll the occupation is taking on Israel."

The lawmaker said the United States cannot negotiate a peace treaty with Israel on the Palestinians' behalf.

"It is time for Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas to come to the negotiating table," Berman said.

"The United States cannot negotiate on the Palestinians' behalf by proxy, as some have reported President Abbas would like. It would be unfortunate indeed if the Palestinians chose to stay on the sidelines rather than negotiate for the statehood they have long craved."

Berman also hinted that the Obama administration erred in raising Palestinian hopes that Israel would commit to a complete freeze of settlement activity.

"We may have done him a disservice by not making clear at the outset of the administration that negotiations should not be linked to a settlement freeze," he said
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1145384.html

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Jerusalem Post: "US legislator praises Netanyahu"

hilary leila krieger, jpost correspondent in washington , THE JERUSALEM POST

A top member of Congress on Sunday defended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and placed the onus for restarting peace talks on the Palestinians.

"It is time for Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas to come to the negotiating table," declared Howard Berman, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to prepared remarks released after his appearance at an Americans for Peace Now (APN) luncheon in his home state of California.

"The United States cannot negotiate on the Palestinians' behalf by proxy, as some have reported President Abbas would like. It would be unfortunate indeed if the Palestinians chose to stay on the sidelines rather than negotiate for the statehood they have long craved," he said.

Abbas has so far refused to negotiate with Netanyahu without there first being a total settlement freeze. Though Netanyahu announced a new-construction moratorium in the settlements in November, that did not satisfy Abbas's demands, particularly because it did not include east Jerusalem.

"We may have done him a disservice by not making clear at the outset of the administration that negotiations should not be linked to a settlement freeze," Berman acknowledged, also noting his high regard for Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's efforts to build Palestinian institutions.

"That said, it is past time for President Abbas to find his way back to the negotiating table. The region needs that, and the Palestinians need that."

In his speech, Berman also praised the moratorium and several other steps Netanyahu has taken, including endorsing a two-state solution and easing movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and his colleagues are the ones who have taken the difficult decisions, and for this they deserve more credit than they get," he said.

"In my view, Netanyahu has demonstrated greater maturity and pragmatism during this, his second prime ministry, than he did in the 1990s. I believe he well understands intellectually what peace requires, and he wants to be a peace-maker."

While Berman backed US President Barack Obama's strong involvement in the peace process, he contended that "A strong US commitment is not adequate for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. Not even a strong US commitment plus a supportive Israeli government is adequate to the task."

Instead, he said, "The most important ingredient for peace-making is the sustained determination of the two parties together, including their willingness to negotiate directly."

Berman also defended legislation he authored calling for greater sanctions against Iran even though APN has taken issue with it. He noted his admiration for the organization, a progressive group that advocates intensified US diplomacy in the region and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they have their differences.

"Although it is true that ordinary Iranians may suffer under a strong sanctions regime, they and their neighbors would likely suffer far less under sanctions than they would in a world where Iran is about to go nuclear, for that will be an uncertain world indeed," he said, according to the prepared remarks.

"Unfortunately, there are no sanctions that are both strong enough to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and limited enough not to impinge on the quality-of-life of average Iranians."

APN spokesman Ori Nir said his organization was very pleased by Berman's participation in their event, even if he highlighted areas where the two differ.

"We're grateful that he honored us by speaking at our event, and as he pointed out, even if there are some policy disagreements between us, we share the same objective of bringing peace to Israel through a two-state solution."

http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147978657&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull