Iran is the problem, not Israeli settlements: US lawmaker
06-Aug-2009 (one comment)

JERUSALEM — Senior US Republican Congressman Eric Cantor said on Thursday that the world should stop pressuring Israel over settlements and concentrate instead on the threat from a nuclear Iran.

Cantor, Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, said the main obstacle to Middle East peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and not the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"I don't quite know what is driving the focus on the issue of settlements," he told Israeli public radio.

"We believe the focus should be on the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran," said Cantor, who is leading a 25-strong delegation of Republican lawmakers on a weeklong visit.

Since hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won elections in February, Israel has come under increasing pressure from US President Barack Obama to freeze settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, considered illegal by the international community.

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