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APN Welcomes Announcement of Bush/Rice Engagement in the Middle East Crisis, Calls for "Determined, creative U.S. leadership" to salvage the situation

APN today welcomed the announcement that President Bush and Secretary of State Rice plan to meet with Saudi officials in Washington on Sunday, and that shortly thereafter Secretary Rice plans to travel to the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lara Friedman
July 21, 2006
(202) 728-1893

Washington, D.C. -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) today welcomed the announcement that President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plan to meet with Saudi officials in Washington on Sunday, and that shortly thereafter Secretary of State Rice plans to travel to the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials, and on to Rome to meet with Arab and Lebanese officials. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization whose mission is to enhance Israel's security through peace and to support the Israeli Peace Now movement.

"The spiraling violence in the Middle East in recent weeks cannot continue. For too long the U.S. elected to remain on the sidelines, hinting that it would not get involved until it was convinced the time was right to find a solution," said Debra DeLee, APN President and CEO. "Now the U.S. needs to step up to the plate -- as Israel's best friend and ally, and as the world's last superpower -- with determined, creative U.S. leadership to salvage the situation. Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians want the violence to end and know that this won't happen without the U.S. getting seriously involved.

"There is no magic formula or quick fix for resolving the dual crises in Gaza and Lebanon, and there can be no return to a status quo where terrorists are able to strike at Israel with virtual impunity, or where a fledgling Lebanese democracy is left at the mercy of militants. The President and Secretary of State must now set into motion a process that will end the escalation, restore order, and put all the parties back on the road to security, stability, and peace, including the implementation of relevant UN resolutions. And they must be prepared to follow up, either personally or through top-level envoys, with subsequent visits and determined, sustained diplomacy. They must break the Bush Administration's long-established pattern of sending special envoys to the Middle East -- like General Anthony Zinni, former CIA Director George Tenet, James Wolfensohn and Ambassador John Wolf -- and not following through with the necessary Presidential commitment and backing to afford their missions any chance of success.

"Many have viewed U.S. inaction thus far as a signal that the U.S. does not care about the lives of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians or the fate of those who strive for democracy. We hope that President Bush and Secretary Rice can now begin to challenge these very dangerous perceptions."