Kerry on Israel—in letters

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Click photo to download. Caption: Sen. Richard Lugar, left, and Sen. John Kerry on Dec. 3, 2009 in Washington, DC. Credit: U.S. Navy.

After President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for Secretary of State, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Kerry “has considerable experience and is a known supporter of the security of the State of Israel.”

At the same time, Kerry has been a frequent critic of Israeli construction beyond the Jewish state’s pre-1967 borders.

When it comes to putting pen to paper, where has Kerry stood on foreign policy matters pertaining to Israel and the Middle East? Below are the highlights of 10 letters signed by large majorities of the U.S. Senate, noting whether Kerry signed or not. Responding to a request for comment from JNS.org, Kerry's office declined to comment on the senator’s reasons for signing or not signing each letter.

DECEMBER 2012

Letter: Urging further pressure on Iran and asking President Obama to reiterate his readiness to exercise a military option if necessary

Number of signatories: 74

Kerry: Did not sign

SEPTEMBER 2012

Letter: Urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization

Number of signatories: 75

Kerry: Did not sign

Click photo to download. Caption: Senator John Kerry speaks with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on March 1, 2010. Credit: U.S. Department of State.JUNE 2012

Letter: Supporting Israel’s right to self-defense and affirming that Israel’s naval blockage is legal following the Gaza flotilla incident

Number of signatories:87

Kerry: Did not sign

APRIL 2010

Letter: Stressing the need for “direct, face-to-face negotiations without preconditions on either side” for Israelis and Palestinians and affirming the “unbreakable bonds that tie the United States and Israel together”

Number of signatories: 87

Kerry: Did not sign

APRIL 2010

Letter: Calling for crippling sanctions against Iran

Number of signatories: 81

Kerry: Did not sign

NOVEMBER 2009

Letter: Supporting a strong international affairs budget for fiscal year 2010, including security assistance for Israel

Number of signatories: 58

Kerry: Signed and initiated

AUGUST 2009

Letter: Supporting President Obama’s effort to encourage Arab states to normalize relations with Israel

Number of signatories: 71

Kerry: Did not sign

MAY 2009

Letter: “Peace Principles” letter stating that “every effort should be made” to realize peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and insisting on “absolute Palestinian commitment to ending terrorist violence and to building the institutions necessary for a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side, in peace with the Jewish state of Israel”

Number of signatories: 76

Kerry: Signed

JUNE 2008

Letter: Reiterating Israel’s right to self-defense, calling on the U.S. to stand strongly with Israel at the UN, and urging pressure on Arab states to do more to support Israeli-Palestinian talks

Number of signatories: 77

Kerry: Signed

MARCH 2007

Letter: Request for “no direct aid and no contacts with any members of a Palestinian Authority that does not explicitly and unequivocally recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror, and accept previous agreements”

Number of signatories: 79

Kerry: Did not sign

Letters and signatories obtained from the archives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Posted on December 30, 2012 and filed under Conflict, Israel, U.S., What They're Saying.