NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America is deeply concerned by a report that the Bush administration is interfering in Israels internal affairs by trying to dictate changes in the make-up of the Israeli government coalition.
Middle East Newsline reports (July 31, 2003): U.S. officials said the White House has urged political figures in Israel to bring the opposition Labor Party into the Sharon government. The officials said such a prospect is regarded to have been bolstered by the recent election of former Prime Minister Shimon Peres to chair Labor. Peres has been an advocate of joining the ruling coalition. He has also endorsed the so-called roadmap, or the international plan for an interim Palestinian state by the end of 2003. The main concern is that Sharon will move away from the roadmap, an official said. Someone like Peres can ensure that that wont happen.
The ZOA notes that the Clinton administration repeatedly interfere in Israels internal affairs. Then-President Bill Clinton supported the candidacy of Shimon Peres for prime minister in the 1996 Israeli elections, and supported Ehud Barak in the 1999 elections, even going so far as to loan his adviser James Carville to the Barak campaign. In addition, Clintons ambassador in Israel, Martin Indyk, reportedly pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change his choice for the position of Finance Minister. (Yediot Ahronot, July 8, 1997)
Clintons interference in Israeli affairs outraged Israeli public opinion, strained U.S.-Israeli relations, and was strongly criticized by candidate George Bush during the 2000 election campaign.
In a letter to President Bush, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, Chairman of the Board Dr. Alan Mazurek, and chairman of the National Executive Committee Dr. Michael Goldblatt wrote: Israel is a democratic country and has a right to decide the composition of its government without outside interference. The United States should respect the right of its democratic allies to run their own affairs, and not attempt to dictate government coalition terms to Israel. In the words of Menachem Begin, Israel is not a banana republic. We urge you to keep your campaign promise to refrain from interfering in Israels internal affairs.