Washington. D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this morning in support of H.Res 34, which recognizes Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirms the United States' strong support for Israel, and supports the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the House underscores the more than 60-year commitment of the United States to the security of Israel.
“I proudly sponsor this resolution and I thank the other original co-sponsors of this legislation, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader John Boehner, as well as the many Members who have voiced their support for this measure and for the State of Israel.
“Today, we reaffirm that Israel, like any nation, has a right to self-defense when under attack. The rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, which were increasing in frequency and range, constituted an unacceptable security threat to which Israel had a responsibility to respond.
“All of us regret the loss of life, injury, and destruction of property of innocent civilians that has occurred on both sides of the conflict. When I spoke with Prime Minister Olmert last week, I made clear our concerns about the loss of life among civilians. We must do all we can to relieve the pain of the innocents and to bring about a real peace that will avoid further loss of life on both sides.
“If we are to achieve a real peace, we must begin with a ceasefire to the current conflict, which is why this resolution calls for the Bush Administration to work toward that end. But a ceasefire must do more than just end the current fighting - it must address some of the root causes of the conflict so we may attain a peace that is, in the words of this resolution, ‘durable and sustainable.'
“Security for Israel and an improvement in the lives of the people of Gaza cannot be achieved as long as Hamas uses that impoverished land as a launching pad for attacks against Israelis.
“The goal of any ceasefire must be more than a return to the status quo; it must be a positive and measurable step toward a final, just resolution of the differences between Palestinians and Israelis. Our goal must be to achieve an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis that results in a secure Israel living side-by-side with a viable and independent Palestinian state--and with both finding peace and prosperity.
“The cycle of violence that feeds the fury of despair must be broken; the hard work of negotiation must be done; and the difficult but necessary decisions made so that such an agreement can be achieved.
“The United States must be an active, constant, and engaged partner in this effort. With the new energy and fresh thinking of the new Administration, we pray that an enduring settlement can be reached.
“From the moment in 1948 that President Harry Truman took the bold step of recognizing the state of Israel to this very day, America has stood and will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our democratic ally in the Middle East.”