Obama: Open, Public Debate With Israel

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As I noted in a post last night, there has been a quiet debate in Washington over the past month over how to talk to Israel: whether negotiations should be kept private or disagreements should be aired in public.

When President Obama made it clear today, in his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, that he wants things out in the open.

On one side is AIPAC, and the 328 representatives and 76 senators who signed onto a letter earlier this month, who say we should keep things private: "The proven best way forward is to work closely and privately together both on areas of agreement and especially on areas of disagreement," its letter reads. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Minority Whip Eric Cantor, most notably, sit in that camp.

On the other side is J Street, the up-and-coming, liberally aligned, peace-promoting lobby group that aims to rival AIPAC. With them is Rep. Barney Frank, who penned a letter to Obama on his own, arguing that disagreements with Israel, as they are with other democratic countries, should be public.

"Given the fact that we are both democracies where public policy should ultimately set with the support of the people in each country, it would be a mistake to refuse to discuss important differences on how to achieve our mutual goals in a way that the electorates in both countries could understand," Frank wrote.

Speaking in Cairo today, Obama addressed the issue head on: "America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," he said, rebuffing AIPAC's call for privacy and restraint.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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