Cantor hits administration's handling of Israel after Jerusalem bomb attack

The second-ranking House Republican on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of being too tough with Israel hours after a bombing in Jerusalem injured dozens.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), the only Jewish Republican in Congress, repeated his party's claim that the administration has asked Israel to concede too much in order to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, which in turn has resulted in Palestinian militant groups continuing to commit violent acts against Israelis.

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"The administration has called on Israel to make sweeping concessions that I believe will endanger its security, but it doesn’t seem to demand similar from the Palestinians," Cantor said in a statement. "No matter how much we desire Mideast peace, it will remain a pipe dream so long as Palestinian culture makes martyrs of terrorists who target innocents." 

Cantor's statement came after a bomb detonated near Jerusalem's central bus station, killing one and injuring at least 50 people. Investigators are still determining who is responsible for the attack.

The GOP leader referenced the recent killing of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank and constant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip as evidence that not enough is being done to stop Palestinian efforts to incite violence. 

President Obama in a statement condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" and urged both sides to exercise restraint in their response.

"The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to self-defense," he said. "We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday. We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties."

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is circulating a letter around Capitol Hill calling on the administration to put more pressure on Palestinian officials to stop incitement. 

"We must use the recent attacks to address the root cause of this violence: anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian mosques, schools and media — and the blanket refusal on the part of the Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist that it has created," Cantor said.

J Street, an alternative Israel lobby, is promoting a separate letter praising the administration's approach to the peace process and criticized the incitement letter as one-sided.

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