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June 10, 2010

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Rep. Barney Frank: If Canada were Hamas our blockade would be tougher.

More than a dozen senators and over 60 members of the House of Representatives have issued statements since the flotilla interception last Monday, with almost all of them overwhelmingly supportive of Israel.

In the Senate, former presidential candidate John Kerry (DMA) said that “Israel has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza… It is not just Israel conducting this blockade; it is Israel and Egypt. So you begin that Israel has this right to protect itself.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) noted that “Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens and therefore has a clear right under international law to prevent weapons from getting in the hands of terrorists determined to target them. Israel indicated it was willing to put in place a process to ensure that legitimate humanitarian relief reached Gaza. Unfortunately this offer was rejected. Israel has pledged to carry out a transparent and thorough investigation of this incident, and I look forward to its findings.”

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said, “We should be very clear about who is responsible for the unfortunate loss of life in the attempt to break the blockade in Gaza. Hamas and its allies are the responsible parties for the recent violence and the continued difficulties for the people of Gaza. Israel exercised her legitimate right of self defense.”

Lieberman said he appreciated “the way in which the Obama administration has refused to join the international herd that has rushed to convict Israel before the facts were known and has apparently forgotten that Israel is a democratic nation and Hamas is a terrorist group.”

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) added that “Israel is at war. Each and every day thousands of its innocent men, women and children face the threat of lethal rocket attacks out of Gaza.

Some of the usual critics of Israel have used recent events to question the strong relationship between our countries… Israel is not a liability to the United States,” Brown said. “There is no greater US ally in the critical area of the Middle East and perhaps no better strategic partnership in the world.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said Israel faced “an incursion by so-called ‘humanitarian’ groups sympathetic to a regime recognized by the US Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization…While I regret the loss of life associated with the ongoing turmoil, Israel simply cannot be expected to stand idly by while its security is challenged and internationally-recognized channels for aid delivery are ignored.”

“The United Nations’ immediate condemnation of Israel,” added Sessions, “reveals the depth and intensity of an international double standard that seeks to blame Israel first while ignoring Hamas’s and Hizbullah’s civilian targeting, as well as Iran’s obvious attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this will likely not be the last time that terrorist organizations – under the guise of humanitarian aid – seek to provoke Israel. As much of the world turns the other way, my support for Israel remains steadfast in its struggle for security until a lasting peace is achieved in the Middle East.”

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) stated, “First, the loss of life was tragic. Second, Israel – rightfully so – invoked its right to self-defense on the Mavi Marmara… To the extent that this act was in protest of the Gaza blockade, let’s be clear: Hamas could end the blockade at any time by recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence, and releasing Gilad Schalit.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) said he deeply regretted “the fatalities and injuries that were suffered during the raid by Israeli commandos of six ships heading to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. I hope that a fair and credible Israeli-led investigation will get to the bottom of what happened and help prevent another such deadly incident from occurring again. However, there can be no doubt about this fact: Israel maintains the legitimate, fundamental right to defend and protect itself. The Israeli government has an obligation to prevent the flow of weapons and fighters into Gaza, sent there for one purpose only – to kill Israelis.”

Said Rep. Gary Ackerman (DNY): “I strongly condemn the action of those who assaulted the Israeli troops and made the use of violence by Israeli troops necessary in self-defense. The loss of life is regrettable, but wholly the fault and responsibility of the organizers of the effort to break through Israel and Egypt’s legitimate closure of terrorist- controlled Gaza.”

And Republican whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) noted, “The irony is thick that again the likes of Saudi Arabia and Cuba come together under the UNHRC to lecture the United States and Israel about human rights. I commend the administration for its steadfast support of Israel in resisting another Goldstone-style UN investigation. These types of kangaroo courts have one goal, and that is to strip democratic nations of their rights to defend their citizens from terrorism. The United States must not lend its authority to any UN action to discredit our democratic ally and set back prospects for peace in the region, and I hope the Obama administration remains committed to that principle.”

Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH) said, “Israel has every right to defend itself against terrorists which threaten its very survival… Unfortunately, while the international community has spent the past week condemning the Israelis, Iran has moved one step closer to building a nuclear bomb. The Obama administration owes the American people and our allies around the world a comprehensive strategy designed to stop Iran from developing a nuclear capability, not to simply contain Iran once it already has one.”

In a somewhat different tone, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a June 1 press release: “I regret the loss of life and look forward to learning the facts from a credible and transparent investigation. This event underscores the urgent need for negotiations designed to achieve an enduring and comprehensive regional peace.”

And Rep. Chris Van Hollen (DMD) said, “I deeply regret the loss of life off the coast of Gaza and offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and my wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. A fair and transparent investigation of this incident should begin immediately…Ultimately, this incident reinforces the critical importance for meaningful negotiations to take place to ensure a permanent and secure peace for all of the people of this region. To secure that peace, the US has made clear its unshakeable commitment to the security of the State of Israel. The US must also continue to make sure humanitarian assistance is able to reach the people of Gaza.”

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) noted that “I do think the Israelis have a legitimate concern about being unfairly blamed and double standards.” He added that Israel “gave up Gaza voluntarily. I was one of those who for a long time was arguing they should. What happened was, Gaza was then occupied by a group of people who think Israel shouldn’t exist and who are in fact on our terrorist list for good reason. Now, what you then have is a blockade. And the argument is, well, there were no weapons in this shipment. But a blockade that allows some things in and not others has to maintain control over the ports of entry, so you can know what is in or not. Given that, I think it was irresponsible of the pro-Hamas people who organized this set of ships to go in there to do that, and obviously understood the potential for violence.”

Still, he added, “That does not mean that everything the Israelis did in this situation was right. When military people are in a situation where they have to use force, as they had to do here, not everything will be done well. Not everything will be done correctly. I do agree it would be in Israel’s interest to have an independent inquiry, appointed by Israelis… But the basic concept – I do believe – put it this way, if Hamas were in Canada, America would have a tougher blockade than Israel has.”