Congress Avoids Calling for Specific U.S. Action After Death of Israeli Teens

Lawmakers condemn the murder of three boys, including one American, but are careful so far to not take a position on the appropriate response.

Israelis mourns and light candles in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on June 30, 2014 after the announce that the bodies of the three missing Israeli teenagers were found. Israel confirmed finding the bodies of three teenagers who disappeared in the southern West Bank on June 12, blaming the Islamist Hamas movement for their kidnapping and murder.
National Journal
June 30, 2014, 1:09 p.m.

U.S. law­makers, quick to ex­press con­dol­ences over the killing of three Jew­ish teen­agers in Is­rael, have so far avoided call­ing for a spe­cif­ic U.S. re­sponse des­pite out­rage in Amer­ica’s pro-Is­rael com­munity.

The teens dis­ap­peared in the West Bank more than two weeks ago and their bod­ies were found Monday af­ter­noon. Is­rael sus­pects Hamas was in­volved and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu has already said the group “will pay” for the boys’ deaths.

One of the boys killed, 16-year-old Naf­tali Fren­kel, was a dual Is­raeli-Amer­ic­an cit­izen. Some of his ex­ten­ded fam­ily lives in New York, in Demo­crat­ic Rep. Nita Lowey’s dis­trict.

“Our hearts are broken by this ap­palling act of ter­ror­ism against three in­no­cent Is­rael­is, and our pray­ers are with all of their fam­ily mem­bers in Is­rael and the United States,” Lowey said in an emailed state­ment. “Pres­id­ent Ab­bas must make clear that such ex­trem­ism will not be tol­er­ated, and lead the ef­fort to hold ac­count­able every single per­son who played a role in this evil act.”

In gen­er­al, law­makers agreed with the state­ment is­sued by the White House — that the U.S. should act­ively as­sist the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment in hold­ing the per­pet­rat­ors ac­count­able. Reps. Ileana Ros-Le­htin­en and Ted Deutch of Flor­ida are in Is­rael and had planned to meet with the fam­il­ies Tues­day.

“We will con­tin­ue to sup­port the Gov­ern­ment of Is­rael in its ef­forts to bring the per­pet­rat­ors to justice,” Ros-Le­htin­en and Deutch said in a joint state­ment.

But those in Con­gress who have had little faith in the new Palestini­an gov­ern­ment took the op­por­tun­ity to de­nounce it once more.

“The whole world should be sickened by the murder of the three Is­raeli teen­agers and the fact that Hamas praised their ab­duc­tions,” Demo­crat­ic Rep. Steve Is­rael said in an email. “These in­no­cent boys had a whole life ahead of them that was robbed by sav­age ter­ror­ists. I vehe­mently con­demn the Palestini­an Au­thor­ity and the unity gov­ern­ment cre­ated with Hamas’ back­ing.”

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