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Hyde-Capps "Dear Colleague" Letter to Commend Secretary Rice on Recent Israeli-Palestinian Agreement

See the invitation to sign the letter, and the letter iteself...

November 30, 2005

Dear Colleague:

We are respectfully writing to ask you to join us in sending the attached letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, commending her for negotiating the recent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians concerning Gaza's Rafah border crossing.

The arrangements Secretary Rice helped broker on November 15 led to the successful opening of the Gaza crossing on November 25. This development is an important step on the path toward Israeli security, economic stability and growth for the Palestinians, and the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The Rafah agreement is critical for both Israel and the Palestinians. It places a high priority on increasing Israeli security and improving the Palestinian quality of life. It will also advance U.S. national security interests in the region by strengthening the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and countering the appeal of extremists.

Our letter to Secretary Rice also urges her to follow-up on this achievement by continuing to make the effort to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians a personal priority. History has shown that breakthroughs in the Middle East only come about when the President or Secretary of State is personally involved.

As the year draws to a close, there is reason for optimism in our hope to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please join us in adding to this momentum by signing this letter to Secretary Rice. If you would like to do so, please contact Lara Alameh with the Committee on International Relations at 5-8097 or Jeremy Rabinovitz with Rep. Capps at 5-3601. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Sincerely,


HENRY J. HYDE
Chairman, Committee on International Relations

and

LOIS CAPPS
Member of Congress


LETTER TO SECRETARY RICE

Dear Secretary Rice:

We are writing to commend you for achieving an historic agreement between Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, and the Quartet on the Gaza border crossing. The successful opening of the Gaza crossing on November 25th is a vital step on the path toward Israeli security, economic stability and growth for the Palestinians, political stability in Gaza, and the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The arrangements you helped broker in the November 15th accord are enabling Palestinians, for the first time, to control entry and exit from Gaza, via Rafah. They will also lead to the upgrading and expansion of other crossing points between Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the expediting of the export of this season's agricultural goods from Gaza. In addition, the accord paves the way for the passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank, and should lead to a reduction in the obstacles to movement within the West Bank. The agreement will permit the Palestinians to begin, for the first time, to construct a seaport, and recognizes the importance of continued discussion regarding the re-opening of a Palestinian airport. The components of this breakthrough will dramatically increase investment in Gaza by the private sector as well as financial assistance from donor countries.

All of these developments will take place in the context of providing for Israeli security. This includes, among other things, the presence of the European Union as third-party monitors at Rafah, the provision of high-tech security equipment and appropriate training for personnel working at border crossings, coordination between Israel and the Palestinians with respect to travel of certain individuals, and explicit recognition in the agreement that "security is a prime and continuing concern for Israel and that appropriate arrangements to ensure security will be adopted." The agreement also stipulates that security services from Israel, the PA, the U.S., and Egypt will continue to coordinate on security issues and will participate in the security working group.

Your role in the achievement of this accord, and the subsequent successful opening of the Gaza crossing point, clearly demonstrate the value of robust, hands-on U.S. diplomatic engagement with Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, more than three decades of Middle East peace efforts have shown that breakthroughs come only when the U.S. President or Secretary of State is personally involved. Your leadership helps reassure Israel and her people of the United States' enduring commitment to Israel's welfare and security, even as Israel takes risks for the sake of peace. At the same time, it helps deliver tangible improvements in the quality of life of the Palestinians - improvements that are fundamental to the efforts of President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to win the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people and counter the appeal of extremists. We thus hope that you will continue to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians a personal priority, including seeing through the implementation of this historic agreement.

Sincerely,