I am blogging live, as House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is talking. Stoyer is laying out an implicit challenge to the President, who will follow him at the podium.
First, Hoyer has stated that our country must do al it can to protect the US do all to protect security of Israel; and that hence the US should abide by memo of understanding between the Bush administration and Israel. This statement, in essence, is a direct rebuke to President Obama, who by making the 1967 borders an issue, moved away from this key agreement reached by the Bush administration with Israel.
Secondly, Stoyer said that the world must protect assaults against the people of Israel. After a huge ovation, Stoyer added that peace can be achived by return to the negotiation table without any preconditions. Turning to the issue of Palestinian statehood, Stoyer argued against the Palestinian declaration of statehood it intends to bring before the UN. Statehood, he said, cannot be declared unilaterally, but must be negotiated.
Finally, Stoyer said that there can be no negotiation with terrorists and international criminals. The US, he said, will and should not fund such a government that does not recognize the Jewish state of Israel.
Stoyer has set out a firm challenge to the President, who speaks now.
I will comment on the President’s speech in an hour. He has just finished. The panel will undoubtedly make many interesting comments and within an hour, the text of the speech will be available on the internet. For now, I would make the point that the President cleverly tried to deflect criticism by emphasizing the pro-Israeli policies his administration has pursued, and he has somewhat backtracked on the meaning of the 1967 borders that he brought up with Netanyahu.