Asked by Yochi Dreazen of The Wall Street Journal at a press conference this morning to address Gen. David Petraeus’ recent testimony that the Israel-Palestinian conflict’s persistence “foments anti-American sentiment,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he didn’t know if it had a “direct” influence on U.S. security, but “the lack of progress toward Middle East peace clearly is an issue that is exploited by our adversaries in the region, and is a source of, certainly, political challenges.” There’s “no question,” Gates said, that the “absence of Middle East peace” impacts U.S. interests in the region.
Seeming like he was dissatisfied over the level of discourse on the issue, Gates added that “the U.S. has considered peace in the Middle East to be a national security interest for decades.”
Petraeus has tried to lower tempers over the suddenly controversial remarks, most recently yesterday in response to a question by Phil Klein of The American Spectator. That hasn’t, so far, stopped the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman from attacking the general. So set your stopwatch to figure out how long it’ll take Foxman to go after Gates.