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Legislative Roundup - July 28, 2006

I. Bills and Resolutions II. New Christian Caucus for Israel III. Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) on the Record IV. Chafee vs. Bolton V. Statements on H. Res. 921

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending July 28, 2006

I. Bills and Resolutions
II. New Christian Caucus for Israel
III. Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) on the Record
IV. Chafee vs. Bolton
V. Statements on H. Res. 921


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I. NEW BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS
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(Israel-Lebanon) S. Res. XXX: Introduced 7/28/2006 by Senators Dodd (D-CT), Levin (D- MI) and Sununu, "Expressing the Sense of the Senate regarding the need for the United States and the international community to take certain actions with respect to the hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel." As of this writing the resolution has been hotlined (i.e., the Senate Majority leader has notified all offices that he is asking for unanimous consent to take up and adopt the resolution; if there are no objections - holds - then the resolution should be passed later today).

(Israel-Lebanon) H. Res. 945: Introduced 7/25/06 by Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and 13 cosponsors, "Expressing deep concern at the ongoing violence in the Middle East, and particularly the current hostilities between the State of Israel and Hezbollah which have intensified since July 12, 2006." Referred to the House Committee on International Relations.

(Middle East Envoy) H. Res. 954: Introduced 7/26/06 by Rep. Leach (R-IA), "Urging the President to appoint a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace." Referred to the House Committee on International Relations.

(Middle East - General) H. Res. 955: Introduced 7/26/06 by Rep. Farr (D-CA), "Calling for sustainable peace in the Middle East." Referred to the House Committee on International Relations.

(Magen David Adom) S. Con. Res. 113: Introduced 7/21/06 by Sens. Clinton (D-NY) and Dole (R-NC), "Congratulating the Magen David Adom Society in Israel for achieving full membership in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and for other purposes." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(Israel-U.S. Cooperation) HR 2730: On July 26th the House voted to suspend the rules and pass HR 2730, the "United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Act." The bill passed by a voice vote (no recorded roll call vote).


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II. NEW CHRISTIAN CAUCUS FOR ISRAEL
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On July 26th Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) issued a press release announcing the creation of a new congressional caucus called the "Congressional Israel Allies Caucus," to be co-chaired by Rep. Weldon and Rep. Engel (R- NY). Explaining the purpose of the caucus, the press release stated:

"...Israel receives tremendous support from numerous Christian groups and denominations in the United State and around the world. Acknowledging this, on January 5, 2004, a Christian Allies Caucus was formed in the Israeli Knesset, Israel's parliamentary assembly. Its mission is to develop lines of communication between Knesset members and many of these Christian groups that support Israel's right to exist and prosper within safe and secure borders.

"The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus is America's response to that initiative. We intend to join with the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the other caucuses in legislatures around the world to support Israel's right to live in peace within safe and secure borders and to promote the Judeo- Christians values upon which western civilization was built. Weldon and Engel will co-chair the caucus."


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III. BINGAMAN ON THE RECORD
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On July 24th Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) made a statement on the Senate floor regarding the current crisis in the Middle East:

"...I condemn the killing and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah. I believe that was a deliberate act of provocation. It was intended to further rupture efforts at creating stability in the region, and it was carried out by groups who seek no less than the destruction of the nation of Israel. And I, I am sure along with my colleagues, support Israel's right to defend itself. However, I also believe the Israeli response has been excessive and the current crisis of escalating violence on both sides must be brought to an end so we can resume efforts at creating a lasting peace.

"...I believe United States interests and Israeli interests will be furthered if we support the efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations to bring about a cease-fire at the earliest possible date. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for an immediate end to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. He has pointed out the obvious, which is that as long as fighting continues, the number of civilian deaths both in Israel and Lebanon will increase. I also believe this may be the best way to ensure the safe return of kidnapped soldiers. Of course, the further destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon is putting the future economic and political viability of that nation at serious risk. I think it is obvious to all that what is occurring in Israel and Lebanon is a disaster for many innocent civilians.

"Our own administration has chosen not to support Secretary General Annan's call for an end to hostilities. As I understand Ambassador Bolton's position, it is that allowing a continuation of hostilities will provide Israel the opportunity to eliminate Hezbollah's ability to attack Israel and that this degrading of Hezbollah's military capability will provide a better possibility for long-term peace. I support the goal of long-term peace, but I disagree with his view that continued combat is the best way to achieve it.

"Whatever additional military advantage might be achieved by delaying a cease-fire comes at a very high cost. First, there is the cost in the loss of additional civilian lives. Second, there is the additional support for Hezbollah in the Arab world which the continued attacks on Lebanon will almost certainly generate. Third, there is the increase in anti-Israeli and anti- American sentiment throughout the Middle East and more broadly which will result if the military conflict continues.

"While I understand the goal of these continued attacks is to bring an end to terror in the Middle East, and I strongly support that goal, I believe the result will be the opposite.

"The administration's unwillingness to join other nations in calling for a cessation of hostilities reinforces the belief in Arab countries that our Middle East policy is based on a double standard. The perception is we have one level of concern when innocent Israeli civilians are being killed and injured and much less concern when the injured or killed civilians live in Arab countries. Support by the U.S. for an immediate cease-fire would save lives on both sides and would help to counter that perception.

"There was an article in the Washington Post last week by Michael Abramowitz entitled 'In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees a Step to Peace.' In the article, he states: 'In the administration's view, the new conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity toseriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq.'

"If this administration thinks it can succeed here in Lebanon with the same strategy that has brought us success in Iraq, then our foreign policy in Washington is even more out of touch with reality than I had thought.

"My second point is as part of our effort to bring about this cease-fire, we need to talk directly with Syrians and others with whom we have disagreed.

"Robert Malley, who was President Clinton's special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs, has written an article in the July 24 issue of Time magazine making that case persuasively. His article is entitled 'Time to Start Talking.' The thrust of his argument is this administration's policy of not talking to those with whom we disagree has not served us well. The same argument is made by John McLaughlin, the former Deputy Director of the CIA, in yesterday's Washington Post.

"In my view, both of these former officials are giving good advice and I urge the President and the Secretary of State to heed that advice.

"My final point is this current crisis should be a wake-up call to this administration that the United States needs to reengage diplomatically in the region.

"For the past several decades, United States administrations have seen our role in the Middle East as supporting the security of Israel but also as helping to resolve conflicts between Israel and its neighbors and supporting moderate governments in the region. There are many chapters in that history. Among the most remembered are Secretary of State Kissinger's efforts at shuttle diplomacy, President Carter's efforts at Camp David, President Clinton's efforts both in bringing Rabin and Arafat to the White House for a handshake, and his later efforts trying to broker a peace agreement at Camp David.

"This current administration has chosen a different course. It has chosen to disengage from that conflict resolution role. As evidence of this, Secretary Powell did not appoint a special Middle East envoy as his predecessor had. Secretary Rice also has not appointed a special envoy. Her statement was: 'Not every effort has to be an American effort. It is extremely important that the parties themselves are taking responsibility.'

"My strong view is this policy of disengagement has not served the interests of the United States, the interests of Israel, or the interests of other countries in the region. We are by far the biggest provider of aid to the countries in the Middle East and if any outside nation is to play an effective and a constructive role, it needs to be the United States.

"I am glad the Secretary of State is in Beirut today, but progress on the diplomatic front cannot be postponed awaiting fly-ins by the Secretary of State. Secretary Rice should appoint a special envoy to work full time at resolving disputes and tensions in the region.

"Again, John McLaughlin states the point well: 'The chances of detecting and heading off imminent disaster are enhanced when there is intense, unrelenting and daily attention by a senior and respected U.S. figure who wakes up every morning worrying about nothing else--the role Dennis Ross played so effectively in the 1990s.'

"Continuing with his quotation, 'Without constant tending to the concerns of all the regional parties, rapid flagging of issues for decision in Washington and continuity of focus by one individual with access we will lurch from crisis to crisis.'

"It is ironic that the President and Secretary of State acknowledge the need for an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. This was the job Karen Hughes was given, to burnish the U.S. image abroad, particularly in the Muslim world. Yet at the same time they refuse to appoint a special envoy to the Middle East which, in my view, would do far more with regard to perceptions in that part of the world.

"I urge the administration to reassert the historic role of the United States as a force for resolution of conflict in the Middle East. I believe that must begin by engaging in direct talks with the parties in the region. And I urge the President and our Secretary of State to help bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities."


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IV. CHAFEE VS. BOLTON
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The following exchange took place between Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) and John Bolton, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, on July 26th, in the context of a new confirmation hearing for Bolton:

Chafee: Welcome, Ambassador. As you said, we have a crisis and tragedy unfolding in the Middle East, and without a doubt this is an extremely important area in the world: energy rich, all the religious areas that are important. And in addressing that, you said that "We are actively engaged in New York in identifying lasting solutions to bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East. To do so, however, requires that we have a shared understanding of the problem. The United States has a firm view that the root cause of the problem is terrorism, and this terrorism is solely and directly responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today."

Now, you're a brilliant man. That statement doesn't make any sense. Terrorism is a device. There's got to be something deeper for the root cause. Can you -- can you go a little deeper?

Bolton: Well, I think -- I think the statement really refers to the conflict in Lebanon now. I think the real root cause is the absence of a fundamental basis for peace in the region, and I think that that -- that striving to get to that point is the objective of our diplomacy now, not to simply acquiesce in a return to the status quo ante, but to see if there's not a way to turn the hostilities that are now going into shifting the basis on which we really deal in the region. And that's why we have resisted calls for an immediate cease-fire, which has the risk of simply returning to the status quo ante.

Nobody -- nobody is under any illusions about the complexity of the problem. But I think that we need to use the current circumstance as a fulcrum to try and move toward a longer-term solution. And that does require, I think, addressing very directly and not sweeping under the rug the support that regimes like Syria and Iran give to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah -

Chafee: Can't you get any deeper -- than just terrorism?

Bolton: Well, I think that -

Chafee: How about a little history of terrorism in the region?

Bolton: Yeah. I think -

Chafee: Where's it go back?

Bolton: I think that that's why the effort we want to make in Lebanon, as Senator Biden and I were discussing, through 1559, that that -- the full implementation of 1559, which is to have a democratic government of Lebanon in full control of its territory, and to get Hezbollah, that says it wants to act like a political party in Lebanese politics, in fact, to do that and give up the course it's been following, which is to have one foot in as a political party and one foot in as a terrorist group. If Hezbollah really carried through on the things that it said publicly, about being a legitimate political party in Lebanon and not being an armed state-within-a-state, then I think you'd see a very different situation there.

That alone is not the solution. I don't -- I don't pretend that it is. I think you've got, in the case of Syria, an authoritarian country -

Chafee: Mr. Ambassador, this is a very complex problem. And it's a conflagration right now. And you said the root cause of the problem, we have to get to it -- that's what you said -- in order to have a permanent peace. Is there anything deeper than "it's just terrorism", to the root cause of the problem in the Middle East? These are your words.

Bolton: Yeah. Well, I think -- I think in addition is the -- is the fact that some elements have still not acknowledged the right of the state of Israel to exist. That's why the peace process that's been going on for 30 years now is still incomplete. There's still -- Israel still has not been able to achieve full peace agreements with many of its neighbors. And in the case of Iran, you have a government that continues to threaten to wipe Israel off the map. That's one reason why Secretary Rice in the meeting in Rome was trying to get this broader basis, to have this wider discussion to address the possibility of something more comprehensive.

But as you said, these animosities are complex. They go back a long way. The question for us, the diplomatic question for us is can we take the current circumstances in southern Lebanon in particular and not simply say let's have a cease-fire that goes back to the situation before a month ago, but can we now use this, can the other Arab states that have joined in in their declaration in the Arab League express some concern about what Hezbollah did, can we now move this process dramatically forward? That -- that's why this is an opportunity at the moment.

Chafee: When we had the ambassador to Iraq, our ambassador, Ambassador Khalilzad, before the committee, he said that shaping the Middle East is the defining challenge of our time. Do you agree with that?

Bolton: I think it's certainly one of the - - one of the most important challenges of our time. I think, reflecting my own background -- we all have a background -- the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains another challenge. And -- but it's the, really, the tying in of those two challenges in the Middle East. If you look particularly at Iran and the risk that Iran itself poses and the risk that failing to deal with Iran adequately would have as an incentive for other governments to turn to pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, that it would make that region even more volatile than it is now.

Chafee: And does that shape of the Middle East include a viable contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel?

Bolton: Absolutely. I think that is -- you know, we're focused now on the problem of Lebanon, but just before that we had -- there were difficulties in the occupied territories as well. And that's precipitated by the role of Hamas, which itself remains a terrorist group that doesn't recognize the state of Israel.

So that is something that, I think, we hope, the administration hopes that, as part of an effort for resolving the larger issues, we're certainly not going to lose of sight of it. It's very much on Secretary Rice's mind, as she traveled to the region, met with Abu Mazen, even in her brief trip, and was discussed in Rome as well.

Chafee: And you notice I said "contiguous?" What has the United States done about that vision of a contiguous Palestinian state?

Bolton: Well, I think a lot of our emphasis has been -- before the election of Hamas was to try and get to pursue the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They're all going to have to live with whatever outcome they come up with. And there are a variety of different proposals to deal with the fact that Gaza Strip is in one place and the West Bank is in another.

But I think our interest is in not one particular way of resolving that conflict, but of trying to help the parties find something that would be mutually satisfactory. That has all, as with many other things, been enormously complicated by Hamas.

Chafee: I suppose -- would you agree with me that many of our allies who you work with daily would say that "back to the root cause" of the problems in the Middle East are associated with our failure to have any progress on this viable, contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel?

Bolton: I think they would, and I think we would say essentially the same thing. There's been no lack of interest in the United States government for 60 years now in trying to resolve this problem, but it's obviously difficult. That's why even as the hostilities continue in south Lebanon, this is a time that we need to look at broader solutions that could well make progress on the Palestinian front as well.

I think that's something we should very much have in mind. I know the secretary does as she works on the diplomacy in the region. We obviously have it in mind in New York, where discussions about Lebanon occur simultaneously with discussions about the occupied territories.

Chafee: I might disagree with you on the effort put behind the rhetoric to that end. But back to the shape, if I take you at your word it includes this concept of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel. What else does the shape of the Middle East look like? I mean, this is a very proactive pronouncement, "shaping the Middle East is the defining challenge of our time." I'm curious. What's it look like?

Bolton: I think it's very important for the governments in the region fully to renounce support for terrorism and to find a way to persuade them to stop pursuing weapons of mass destruction. I think it's complicated by sales of technology from places like North Korea and China into the region.

And I think that's one reason why the notion of convening the core group in Rome the way the secretary did is very important. There are a lot of elements at play here, and unless we're willing to look at some of these causes that lie behind the immediate violence, a secession of hostilities here will simply postpone another violent reckoning to a few months or so down the road.

And I don't think we should accept that. I think we have to look at the possibility of a kind of arrangement in the region that will lead to longer-term stability instead of just fixing the immediate problem.

Chafee: Well, once again, it's a little frustrating, trying to get an idea of what this shape looks like. It started with the regime change in Iraq, and we've seen our challenges associated with that, and then the failure of the road map and now the conflagration, as I said, in southern Lebanon. But it's difficult to get an idea of what the administration has in mind. And you're our witness, so I'm asking you if you could give me some idea of what unfolds from here.

Bolton: I do think it's important, if you look at the case of Lebanon, that if the steps that had been taken toward the implementation of a full, viable democracy in Lebanon were to continue -- if, for example, in addition to having not just the free and fair election of a Lebanese parliament, but the free and fair election of a Lebanese president, if you had the security institutions, the police, the prosecutors and the courts, able to function independently of external influence, if you had the government exert its authority over the full reach of Lebanese territory, I think that would be a significant step forward that would be visible to others in the region.

We know from conversations that the efforts to establish a viable democracy in Iraq and the efforts in Lebanon have an influence in places like Syria, which has a literate and educated and aware population, and where people not just in the diaspora but in Syria itself are saying, "Well, if they can vote in Lebanon and they can vote in Iraq, why can't we vote in Syria, too?" That's a powerful influence over time. And it's something that we should continue to foster.


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V. STATEMENTS ON H. RES. 921
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As reported in last week's Round-Up, on July 20th the House agreed to suspend the rules and pass H. Res. 921, "Condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supporting Israel's right to defend itself, and for other purposes." The resolution passed by a vote of 410-8, with 4 voting "present" and 10 not voting. Following the vote, a number of members of Congress placed statements in the record expressing concerns about the resolutions. Below are some excerpts from those statements (listed alphabetically):

Dingell (D-MI)
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"I rise today with great sadness over the events in Lebanon. I believe we must speak with one voice that Israel has a right to defend itself. I believe we are unanimous in our opinion that Hezbollah began this conflict; and I believe that we are unanimous that Iran and Syria continue to destructively meddle in the emerging democracy of Lebanon.

"...The events of the last week have been horrific. The violence on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanon border has escalated, and more and more people, mostly civilians, have seen their lives forever changed. Innocent Israelis and innocent Lebanese have been pulled into a conflict not of their own making. The 'Peace of the Brave', that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave his life for, is today a lost hope.

"Diplomacy, which the last Administration was criticized for using too much, seems to be a dirty word today.

"...Last summer, we passed unanimously a resolution that said, the United States would support efforts to enhance Lebanon's sovereignty. The same resolution said, 'The United States should aid the people of Lebanon in their efforts to restore the separation of powers, the rule of law, and a proper respect for fundamental freedoms of every citizen.' We promised a commitment to the people of Lebanon that is not entirely reflected in this resolution. We said we would support them, and in my view the best way we can support them is to bring about a cessation of violence."

"Israel's right to defend itself is absolute, but I am concerned that the current action will make it impossible for Lebanon's small military to properly assert itself along the troubled border.

"We should support Prime Minister Tony Blair's plan to expand the international force along the southern border. We should also begin to rethink our own aid package to Lebanon's democratic government.

"The United States can truly change hearts and minds in the Middle East if we commit ourselves to helping to rebuild Lebanon's infrastructure, help professionalize and equip their national military, and provide the economic assistance they will need to keep their restive population employed and prosperous. That is where I believe this resolution should be focused, and I believe it is in that omission that this Congress' policy is woefully inadequate.

"...Madam Speaker, most tragically it was only 6 years ago that we were on the cusp of something almost magical--peaceful coexistence in the Middle East. The engagement of the United States was vital to that. The brave dream laid out by Yitzhak Rabin was shattered by an assassin's bullet. The brave concessions by Ehud Barak and the support of President Clinton almost realized that dream.

"But I believe we can get back to that moment. I believe it will take a fully engaged United States. I believe it will take a substantial investment on our part as a Congress to provide Lebanon and Israel with the assistance they need to overcome this crisis and reestablish security along their border. Unfortunately, this resolution does not address these issues, and is an inadequate statement of policy to the parties who are friends of peace..."

Eshoo (D-CA)
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"...I rise today in support of this Resolution which condemns Hezbollah and Hamas, the terrorist attacks against Israel and the full support of the U.S. for Israel to defend herself and live in peace among her neighbors. As I support this Resolution, I believe it is deficient in not expressing this body's strongest desire for all parties involved in the current conflict to exercise military restraint in order to spare the lives of innocent Israeli and Lebanese civilians.

"While the Lebanese people have been making laudable strides toward a more positive future and a peaceful coexistence in the region, terrorists have sought continuously to ignite conflict. The Government of Lebanon has paid a price for their stand against Hezbollah and Syria, enduring assassinations, political and social turmoil, and now the wide-scale destruction of civilian lives and critical infrastructure. As a result the people of Lebanon are alongside our friends in Israel in being victimized by Hezbollah and Hamas in the current crisis.

"...The terrorists have succeeded in creating a humanitarian crisis which the international community, including the United States, has yet to respond to. The escalating conflict is nearing full-scale war and terrorists and their state sponsors are realizing their goal of scuttling the Roadmap to Peace and pushing regional leaders away from the negotiating table.

"I believe the United States has the responsibility and the power to be the voice of reason and put an end to brinkmanship. The region is desperate for restraint on the part of all parties. The Resolution is silent on this. ...We need a policy in the Middle East that does not begin and end with military force. A political solution must be structured and the U.S. can and should take a decisive role through diplomacy and negotiations to shape a solution to the conflict."

Farr (D-CA)
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"...The United States is faced with a harsh reality that peace in the Middle East has been so elusive. Yet we cannot, we must not, stop trying to broker peace. The U.S. cannot turn its back on the families in the Middle East and must not conclude that constant war is inevitable. The U.S. must step up to the challenge of engaging the Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese and all the Middle East nations who want a lasting peace. I am not willing to give up hope that peace in the region can be achieved and nor should this administration.

"It is imperative to remember that this region is very complex, and that there are forces working for peace and forces that crave war. Benjamin Franklin once said, 'There was never a good war or a bad peace.' It is time for this administration to remember these important words. The Middle East conflict has largely been pushed to the back burner by this administration with serious repercussions for U.S. national security interests. The U.S. must stop performing band-aid diplomacy and focus on long-term solutions to move toward peace. History should have taught us that violence only begets more violence and all actors involved need to recognize the mutual benefits of peace.

"We are faced with a vital question--where can we go from here? First and foremost, Hezbollah and Hamas must disarm and recognize Israel's right to exist. Armed political parties that use brute force do not foster peaceful solutions. Israel has survived five major wars since its inception. This country lives in constant defense mode because terrorist organizations surrounding it still harbor hope of its destruction. The U.S. must continue its steadfast support of Israel, and all countries in the region must abide by U.N. resolutions that promote a two-state solution.

"The loss of civilian lives in the Middle East is tragic and continued violence makes the challenge of achieving peace more difficult. The U.S. must renew a serious diplomatic effort in the region."

Kilpatrick (D-MI)
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"...I rise today with very strong and mixed feelings on H. Res, 921. This resolution condemns the recent attacks against the State of Israel. The State of Israel has two intractable enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah. Presently, Israel is engaged in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon. I cannot over-emphasize that I am vehemently and unalterably opposed to the attacks undertaken by Hezbollah against Israel. At the same time, I cannot and will not support other language in the resolution which I consider to be harmful to the interests of peace, diplomacy, security, and the protection of civilians in Lebanon and Israel..."

McDermott (D-WA)
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"...it was with unwavering support for Israel, its safety, security and right to exist, that I cast a vote today against House Resolution 921. Hezbollah, not Israel, started this conflict with an ambush, and Israel has every right to defend itself. There is no doubt about that. Nor is there any doubt anywhere about America's deep and abiding commitment to Israel.

"A resolution in the House of Representatives will not change what the world already knows, but it might encourage what the world already fears: a wider war with greater casualties, undermining fragile but crucial support for Israel among Arab nations, and further endangering Israelis and other innocent civilians across the region.

"...Widening the war will inflame tensions, increase casualties and decrease any prospect for a permanent peace. The United States can best support Israel and the Arab world by vigorously pursuing an end to the violence, the resumption of a peace process and a commitment to unite the region to isolate terrorist groups and all who oppose a just and lasting peace for all people."

Moran (D-VA)
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"...Though I support this resolution, I feel it falls short in failing to call for an immediate cessation to the ongoing hostilities, for an end to the loss of civilian life and the destruction of property that is occurring in Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza. Violence, death and destruction are the unfortunate consequences of war...

"...The administration must play a different, far bolder and more balanced role in resolving the current Middle East hostilities. When it comes to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the administration has been disengaged for more than 5 years. Over the past 3 weeks, we have seen the disengagement.

"Starting now, the United States must be willing to again engage itself, directly and forcefully, in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. We have played an important role in the prior progress that has been made toward peace and stability in the Middle East. We must resume this role. Secretary Condoleezza Rice must immediately lead the efforts for a multilateral diplomatic return to the peace process, and hang in there until real fundamental reconciliation is achieved.

"Finally, I am deeply concerned about the impact the current crisis will have on the long-term prospects for peace in the Middle East and upon future generations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Lebanon. A continuation of the violence and hatred will only serve to harden feelings and widen the gap now separating the people of this historic and cherished part of the world, and to make the securing of a real and permanent peace in the region more difficult and elusive than ever..."

Stark (D-CA)
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"...I support Israel's right to exist and denounce the tragic kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. I also appreciate the desire to marginalize Hezbollah. But Israel's disproportionate military response, which is decimating Lebanon's infrastructure and economy, and preventing the transport of necessary medicines into the country, is counterproductive.

"As we are all painfully aware, the Middle East is a fragile place. Unfortunately, America's unconditional support for Israel is now tipping the balance in Israel's favor, facilitating a cycle of violence that undermines hopes for long-term peace. The latest back-and-forth threatens a larger, longer, and more deadly war, and underscores the failure of this administration to bring stability to the region.

"Lebanon has a democratically elected government that is by no means safely ensconced. I fear that in an attempt to weaken Hezbollah, Israel will instead undermine a Lebanese government that is more autonomous and sovereign than at any time in the past two decades. Killing Lebanese soldiers, for example, will not help the Lebanese government limit Hezbollah's influence. President Bush and I rarely agree, but even he this week cautioned Israel to be 'mindful' of allowing Lebanon's government to 'succeed and survive' after the conflict.

"I do not agree with the President's refusal, however, to join the international community in calling for a prompt cease- fire. Nor do I appreciate this resolution's tacit approval for a lack of American diplomacy...I cannot vote for a resolution that condemns one tragedy while supporting another. I urge my colleagues to embrace the difficult and challenging path to peace rather than the reflexively simple march to war."

Woolsey (D-CA)
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"...The two sides cannot resolve this by themselves, and it is clear that only a diplomatic track will help to address the wide-spread unrest in the Middle East.

"...The Administration must become engaged with the international community in pursuing a peaceful and just resolution to this on- going crisis instead of standing by while innocent civilians are killed. President Bush's stubborn involvement in Iraq has made it difficult for the U.S. to focus on this and other conflicts in the region. Instead of bringing parties to the negotiating table, President Bush and Secretary Rice have ignored the region while it has literally gone up in flames."


For more information, contact APN Government Relations Director Lara Friedman at 202/728-1893, or at lfriedman@peacenow.org