January 08, 2009

Wyden Issues Statement on Conflict in Gaza

Washington, DCU.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.,) released the following statement regarding the current conflict in the Gaza strip.

"It is extremely disappointing that Hamas yesterday rejected the French-Egyptian cease-fire proposal for Gaza. Both sides should immediately seek an end to the violence.

I urge Hamas to agree to an immediate, verifiable and enforceable end to their missile attacks on Israeli territory, and I urge Israel to follow up this cease fire by fully engaging with the Palestinian leadership in an effort to achieve a permanent end to the violence and a lasting solution to the underlying conflict between them.

In the fall of 2002 when I voted against and spoke out against America going to war in Iraq, I succeeded in declassifying a CIA document which concluded that Saddam Hussein was no real threat to U.S. security unless provoked. During the debate over whether to authorize war with Iraq, I clearly stated that Hamas and Hezbollah were, in fact, a very real threat to the United States and to peace in the Middle East, and I argued that an American invasion and occupation of Iraq would enable these two terrorist organizations to gain strength while feeding off of the Bush administration's neglect of the Middle East peace process. Tragically, my great fears of 2002 have become the ominous reality of 2009.

With funds and supplies from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah have rained missiles down on Israeli civilian targets again and again. These terrorists have launched unguided warheads with no legitimate military targets. Hamas has military control over Gaza, but has failed to exercise the most fundamental responsibilities that separate a legitimate sovereign power from a terrorist gang. Hamas had an unambiguous responsibility to prevent rockets from being fired from lands under its control. Instead, Hamas has aided and abetted these lethal attacks.

Moreover, Hamas has intentionally endangered innocent Gazans by sanctioning the location of military options close to heavily populated areas in Gaza so as to ensure civilian casualties when Israel had no choice but self-defense.

I am pro-Israel. I am pro-Palestinian. I am pro-peace. I am anti-terrorist, and Hamas is a terrorist organization. Israel has a right to defend itself from missiles fired by any terrorist organization at its civilians. Peace negotiations, now being led by the French and Egyptians, must be accelerated to create an enduring framework for peace that first, requires Hamas to implement an immediate, enforceable end to their missile attacks on Israeli soil, and second, requires Israel to implement a response that is truly reciprocal.

My visits to the Middle East always leave me profoundly believing that the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians desire and deserve peace and a better life. America, and the new Obama administration, must use all their influence to bring that about."