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Local leaders attend DC Israel assembly
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Local leaders attend DC Israel assembly

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry is “unwarranted,” the Israeli ambassador to Washington said, as U.S. officials made public their unhappiness with the attacks.

“Israel appreciates that President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who is here today, have strongly supported Israel’s right to defend itself. We also appreciate their efforts to help achieve a sustainable cease-fire,” Ron Dermer said Monday at an assembly of Jewish leaders and top U.S. officials to show support for Israel during its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I speak directly for my prime minister here,” he said. “The criticism of Secretary Kerry for his good-faith efforts to advance a sustainable cease-fire is unwarranted.”

Dermer was referring to a barrage of criticism over the weekend, much of it leaked through the Israeli press, aimed at a cease-fire proposal presented last week by Kerry to the Israeli government.

The Monday assembly, held at the National Press Club and organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America, drew top lawmakers, including Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House minority whip.

Delegates from the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations included its executive director, Jacob Toporek, as well as Gordon Haas, Sam Pepper, Roger Jacobs, Lenny Posnack, and Eric Lavitsky, all representing the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

“The CRC of Greater MetroWest appreciates the strong show of support of the top U.S. congressional members and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice to stand in solidarity with Israel,” said CRC director Melanie Roth Gorelick in a statement. “Elected officials from both parties agreed that Israel has the right to defend itself and to end Hamas’s reign of terror, and we are grateful for the resolutions and legislation they have passed on this as well as their initiative to double the investment in the Iron Dome and maintain Israel’s stockpile of interceptor missiles so Israel can remain secure.”

Rice, in her remarks at the gathering, said the Obama administration was “dismayed by some press reports in Israel mischaracterizing [Kerry’s] efforts last week to achieve a cease-fire. We know these misleading reports in turn raise concerns here at home in America.”

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