WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, issued the following statement on the Middle East policy speech delivered yesterday by President Barack Obama:

“It is crucial that those demonstrating against the authoritarian government in Syria and struggling to build new governments in North Africa know that Americans share their desire for equality, justice and self-determination.

“However, I am concerned by the President’s unexpected remarks involving Israel and the Palestinian territories. Unlike previous periods of friction in the Middle East, today’s turmoil in Arab nations is not fueled by the Arab people’s opposition to the state of Israel, but is instead rooted in their determination to end years of authoritarian rule. By calling on Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders, the President has chosen to pursue an abrupt shift in American Middle East policy at a time when he must instead focus on supporting potentially transformational democratic movements and eliminating the ever-present threat of terrorism.

“Though I share the President’s goal of developing peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, applying significant pressure on our closest ally in the Middle East to ultimately make territorial concessions to the Palestinian authority, which has yet to recognize Israel’s right to exist and eliminate terrorist elements within its existing borders, is deeply troubling.”

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