Oh the irony: Pro-Israel US politician hits out at illegal settlements… in Cyprus!
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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the most senior Republican woman in the US House of Congress and an outspoken supporter of Israel and its policies in the West Bank.
But in her article for the Washington Times, entitled “Time for Turkey to leave Cyprus in peace: long-standing occupation amounts to annexation” she clearly had not made the connection between the two occupations.
Writing for the newspaper this week, she chided Turkey for the huge number of “settlers” brought in to occupy Greek-Cypriot homes:
“The Turkish government continues to promote illegal immigration by Turks to the northern occupied areas of Cyprus with the goal of changing the demographic composition of the island.”
But despite the obvious parallels with Israeli settlers in Palestinian land, Ros-Lehtinen seemed blissfully unaware. Publicly, the politician has no problem with the Israeli policy of illegal settlements in the West Bank, leaving her open to accusations of double standards.
When the Obama administration issued a statement in 2010 condemning Israeli settlements, she demanded the State Department halt its “condemnations” of “an indispensable ally and friend of the United States.” She is also happy to take campaign contributions from known funders of settlements such as Irving Moskowitz.
After a brief pause two years ago, Israel has continued to build what are considered to be illegal settlements by the international community. The Obama administration is committed to a two state resolution but Ros-Lehtinen is not convinced. Speaking at a Washington press conference last year, she said:
"How will recognizing Palestine bring a peaceful resolution for Israel? Let's get back to the founding principles of the UN, let's not make it a staging ground for pariah states."
The irony of chiding Turkey for an illegal occupation of Cyprus but supporting Israeli policies for Palestine has not been lost on the online community. Bloggers and tweeters were bemused that a senior US politician could write such an anti-Turk polemic without apparently seeing the similarities.
By Helen Brooks
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