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March 5, 2013 12:09 pm

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Menendez: No ‘Blank Check’ to Egypt

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Sen. Robert Menendez. Photo: U.S. Senate.

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference that U.S. aid to Egypt should be contingent upon Egypt upholding its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

“American security assistance to Egypt cannot be a blank check,” Menendez said.

Menendez, who follows current Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden as foreign relations chair, said, “There will never be any daylight between the United States and Israel on my watch. Never. Not on my watch.”

“The fact is we need to be ahead of the curve, and as chairman I intend to keep us ahead of the curve when it comes to the present and future threats to our security,” he said.

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Drawing a standing ovation from the AIPAC crowd, Menendez reaffirmed the biblical Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

“There can be no denying the Jewish people’s legitimate right to live in peace and security in a homeland to which they have a connection for thousands of years,” he said.

Menendez condemned the Palestinians’ unilateral statehood bids at the United Nations the last two years, which included their attainment of nonmember observer state status last fall.

“To create a sovereign Palestinian state with clear boundaries, there has to be a negotiated settlement with the state of Israel,” he said.

As far as the Iranian nuclear threat goes, Menendez said, “Containment is not an option for the United States.”

“Our clear intention must be to prevent Iran from ever reaching nuclear capacity,” he said.

“We will not and cannot talk for talking’s sake,” he said of the diplomacy track for Iran. “We cannot allow the negotiations to become just a stalling tactic for Iran to buy time.”

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