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The Hill: Congress Watches Netanyahu's Speech And N.Y. Special Election

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Hope For Resuming Peace Negotiations

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are backing a call for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace negotiations after Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress Tuesday. Democrats are trying to smooth over turmoil in the U.S.-Israel relationship after President Barack Obama called for land borders based on 1967 borders.

Bolton says lawmakers were impressed by Netanyahu's call to have Palestinian leaders return to negotiations and his willingness to have West Bank settlements be part of a future peace agreement.

Bolton says Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is "very hopeful of peace negotiations resuming after listening to Netanyahu speak."

But Kerry also says figuring out Hamas' role is an obstacle.

"The question is, who does Netanyahu and the Israeli leadership negotiate with when there's a bifurcated Palestinian state, when you have separate authorities in the West Bank and in Gaza, which is run by Hamas?" Bolton says.

He says Kerry said the Palestinian authority will have to find a way to bring Hamas into the talks, "or at least to subsume Hamas within the broader Palestinian leadership."

The United States and Israel will not negotiate with Hamas directly because Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

A rebuke of Republican Medicare plans?

Tuesday Congress is also looking at the special election taking place outside Buffalo in New York's 26th District. The three-way race is between Republican Jane Corwin, Democrat Kathy Hochul and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis. Bolton says political strategists are taking interests in the race because of its potential as a bellwether for the 2012 election, similar to the way the 2010 special election in Massachusetts was seen as an indicator of 2010 midterm election results.

"When Democrats lost that Senate race at the beginning of 2010, it was seen as a public rebuke of the Democratic health care reform bill, and it was seen as a sign of things to come in the midterm elections," Bolton says. "Well, some think that this special election in New York could be a similar rebuke of Republican medicare plans and could be a sign of bad things to come for Republicans in 2012."

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