WASHINGTON, July 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight in support of H.Res. 921, condemning the recent attacks against Israel. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"Mr. Lantos, it's hard to capture the words to express the difficulty that Israel is facing now for all of us, but for you, it must be particularly difficult. I know that you are an idealist; I know that you are a realist. I thank you for your leadership; we could not be better served than by having you here at this difficult time.
"And at this difficult time for the state of Israel, this resolution reaffirms our unwavering support and commitment to Israel, and condemns the attacks by Hezbollah.
"I support this resolution because I believe that the seizure of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists was an unprovoked attack and Israel has the right, and indeed the obligation, to respond. Hamas and Hezbollah are committed to the destruction of Israel, what more do you need to know? It is clear that Iranian and Syrian aid have helped the effort to achieve that goal. The United Nations Security Council has already spoken on the issue of dismantling Hezbollah; the Security Council's resolution must be enforced by the international community. Syria has repeatedly demonstrated it is a rogue state, which is why we passed Mr. Rangel's Syria Accountability Act more than two years ago. However, we must now fully implement all the sanctions spelled out in that legislation.
"In order to address the Iranian support of terrorists, I urge the passage of the Iran Freedom Support Act. We must ensure that Iran and Syria understand the depth of the commitment of the United States to the state of Israel by using every diplomatic tool at our disposal.
"For a time in recent years, there was a hope that a corner had been turned in the Middle East. The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, the emergence of a democratic process in Lebanon, and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza were all hopeful signs that the future could be different from the past. Those indications of progress, however, were seen as threats by Hezbollah and Hamas, organizations that have a greater interest in maintaining a state of hostility with Israel than in improving the lives of the people they claim to represent. Now the lives of those people and tens of thousands of others in the Middle East, including thousands of American citizens in Israel and Lebanon, have been put at risk by the aggression of Hamas and Hezbollah.
"As the fighting rages, it is imperative that the combatants take whatever steps they can to lessen risk to innocent civilians. The world knows too well the horrors of war. It also knows that there are ways to offer some degree of protection to civilians, and it is right to insist that those ways be chosen. Using civilians as shields by concealing weapons in civilian areas, as done by Hezbollah, is inconsistent with affording them protection, and the resolution we are considering properly condemns that action. Protecting civilians also means getting our citizens out of harm's way as quickly as possible. I urge the administration to expedite its efforts to bring to safety those Americans who want to leave Lebanon.
"When the fighting ends, and I hope that it will be soon, the United States must engage in a concerted, sustained effort with other nations seeking a just resolution of the differences between Israel and its neighbors. Israel's right to exist is the non-negotiable starting point for that effort.
"I thank again those who were responsible for bringing the resolution to the floor and again commend Mr. Lantos for his leadership, compassion, and wisdom."
Contact: Brendan Daly or Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616, both of the Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/