Leaders on Capitol Hill seem unlikely to come to an agreement on Israel's role in a deadly raid Monday that killed nine activists on a flotilla carrying aid to Gaza, sparking criticism the Obama administration is not forceful enough in acting in defense of a key ally.
Republican Senator John McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a staunch supporter of Israel, said Tuesday those on the Turkish cruise ship "wanted to provoke an international crisis" that "would increase support for the pro-Palestinian cause."
McCain, who has long been critical of President Obama's approach to peace in the Middle East, told Fox the president is not living up to campaign promises when he vowed to defend Israel at almost any cost. "The mistaken belief that pressuring Israel on a settlement freeze," referring to a call from the administration that all new communities in the capitol city of Jerusalem be placed on hold, "would somehow move them closer and show the Arab world that they were putting pressure on Israel has backfired."
The White House condemned the loss of life earlier this week, and said today, "What's most important to the president is that events like the one that transpired a couple of nights ago don't transpire again," emphasizing through spokesman Bill Burton that the administration is focused on protecting the security of Israel.
New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner seems to agree with McCain, at least on some level, saying, "We know that Israel had not only warned that this boat was in violation of an entirely lawful blockade, but had offered safe harbor to the boat." Acknowledging waning support for Israel in much of the world, Weiner added in another statement to Fox, "Israel is within her rights to repeal these attacks just as surely as the U.S. has a right to protect its shores from Al-Qaeda."
But some in Washington say Israel's treatment of Arabs around the world make them "ashamed" to be Jewish. Representative Barney Frank, D-Mass., told the Boston Herald the nine people killed were "innocent" and called for an exhaustive inquiry of the raid.
"Once you have a combat situation and innocent people die, I mean, you know, look at our problems in Afghanistan, and we have an obligation to try and avoid it," Frank said.
But McCain contends that while the United States has long stood next to Israel, nations across the world, including Israel's enemies, now question the strength of the U.S. commitment.