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Statement by John Edwards on the United States and
John Edwards believes that Israel is one of America's
vital allies, and that the U.S. must support Israel to help it fight
terror and achieve peace. On August 9, 2001, as Edwards was concluding
a trip to Israel that included meetings with senior Israeli political
and military leaders, a Palestinian suicide bomber attacked the Sbarro
pizzeria in Jerusalem, near the King David Hotel where Edwards was staying.
This horrific tragedy reinforced Edwards's belief in the importance
of America's historic relationship with Israel, and his resolve to stand
by Israel's side as it fights terror and works toward peace.
Edwards has been one of Israel's strongest and most
consistent supporters in the U.S. Senate, and as President, he will
work in the tradition of Democratic Presidents like Harry Truman, John
Kennedy and Bill Clinton to strengthen the special relationship between
the United States and Israel and the Jewish people. He will work tirelessly
to strengthen America's economic and political ties with Israel - the
region's only democracy -- and will ensure that America will do what
is necessary to ensure Israel's security, including through economic
and military aid.
A Commitment to Israel's Security
Edwards believes that one of the most important ways
America can help ensure Israel's long-term security is by helping the
Israeli people live in an environment of peace, with safe and secure
borders. He will play an active role in negotiating a long-term settlement
between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab states - not just through
words and promises and photo-op summits, but through sustained, high-level
engagement. He will be involved in these negotiations personally, and
will appoint a senior, high-level envoy to help promote peace in the
Edwards supports a two-state solution, with the Jewish
state of Israel and a legitimate, democratic Palestinian state living
side-by-side in peace. All the specific differences between Israel and
the Palestinians must be solved through dialogue and negotiation, not
terrorism and violence. As President, Edwards will do everything in
his power to see that the Palestinian leadership fully dismantles terrorist
organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, works to promote democracy
and uphold fundamental freedoms, ends corruption, and stops promoting
violence through the media and school system.
Standing By Israel's Side to Achieve Peace
The Israeli people deserve to live without the fear
of terrorism, in a Jewish state with Jerusalem as their capital; and
the Palestinian people deserve to live under a representative government
that fights terrorism and corruption, and supports fundamental freedoms.
Edwards believes that as long as the Palestinian leadership fails to
end terror, Israel has a right to take measures to defend itself. Such
defensive measures are not the cause of terrorism - they are the response
to terrorism. Edwards recognizes that these measures, however justified,
are not a substitute for negotiations that can lead to a long-term settlement.
To achieve peace, both sides recognize that they will
have to make difficult choices. But these decisions must be made by
the parties themselves, not imposed from the outside. Edwards believes
that the U.S. and others in the international community must stand ready
to support the Israelis and the Palestinians as they make these difficult
decisions, through economic assistance, political support and helping
to implement any settlement.
A Strong, Consistent Commitment, Not Mixed Messages
Senator John Edwards believes that this is not the
time to send mixed messages about the special relationship between America
and Israel. His support for Israel and a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship
- and his commitment to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East -
is something he believes deeply. He has a proven record of consistent
support in the U.S. Senate; and as President, he will work tirelessly
to use American leadership to stand by Israel, fight terror and achieve
a lasting peace, so that the region will reflect Isaiah's vision, in
which "nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall
they learn war any more." (John
Edwards for President)
John Edwards on President Bush's Middle East policy,
Energy Independence & the Peace Process
My criticism of the president on the Middle
East peace process has been a lack of engagement. Edwards said
the road map the Bush administration drafted to create a
Palestinian state alongside Israel by '05 is a good thing,
but isn't sufficient without sustained U.S. involvement.
Edwards: I think the test for him now is: Will he follow through?
It's not enough to show up for one meeting and over a short period of
time stay engaged on this issue." Edwards said the U.S. "should
continue working with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas,
despite Abbas' failure to curb violence in the region.
(Hotline, June 16, 2003)
Presidents of both parties have tolerated and
even supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, in part because
the United States depends on them for oil. A real commitment to energy
independencewhich the Bush administration clearly lackswould
not only strengthen the U.S. economy but free the United States to promote
American values. The United States must also do far more to promote
peace between Israel and the Palestinians. (Essay, ForeignPolicy.com,
We haven't done enough to work on the peace
process in Israel; we didn't sustain the progress that had been made
there. (Salon.com, January 14, 2003)
John Edwards at the Arab American Institute Debates
MR. ZOGBY: What concrete steps would you take to convince
Israel and the Palestinians that the U.S. is serious about promoting
peace? We had a roadmap, and theres great concern today that its
not only violence but that oppression continues, that a wall is being
built that is taking land and taking taking away hope, frankly.
Settlements are being built and people are dying on all sides. And the
question is, what would you do what kind of leadership and concrete
steps would you take to move this process from where it is today to
where you feel it ought to be?
SEN. EDWARDS: Well, Jim, as you and everyone in your
audience knows, it is a very, very difficult situation, one that I believe
will require serious long-term, sustained engagement by the United States
at the highest possible level. You know, if you look back historically
at efforts to move toward a serious and lasting peace in the Middle
East, the example I always use is President Clinton at Camp David. I
mean, heres a president thats very bright, very talented,
working extraordinarily hard to reach an agreement, and it was unsuccessful.
I think we have to recognize reality, which is this
is going to be a multi-step process, its going to require so many
issues you mentioned from the settlements: the right of return, what
to do about Jerusalem. Theres a lot of work to be done, and everyone
knows that stopping the violence and attacks that are going on now.
But I think at the end of the day, the single most important thing for
America to do and for an American president to do is to be engaged in
a sustained and ongoing way, not shortterm, not showing up occasionally
for a meeting; either the president himself or his or her secretary
of State, or at a minimum, the envoy for the secretary of State because
I think without a serious long-term, sustained engagement from the United
States, there is very little chance of anything positive happening,
and I think its the single most important thing for us to do.
MR. ZOGBY: The are there any specifics, though,
that you would suggest? If you were president today, what would you
do? What would you do?
SEN. EDWARDS: Heres what I would do. The first
thing is I would go there myself if I were president of the United States.
The second thing I would do is make sure that we had my secretary of
State there, involved in negotiations over an extended period of time.
The third thing I would do is I think we have to find ways to empower
those that are within the PA who want peace, and I know that theres
a large group of people within the PA who want peace. And we have to
find ways to empower them so that the so we dont find a
situation where so many will be driven away, so many believe that its
hopeless, theres nothing that can be done. I think economic help
is one way that we could help empower those who want reform and want
peace. But other than that, I dont think there is theres
no easy answer here, and I would never suggest that there is. I think
the I hate to keep coming back to it, but I think it is what
we need. We have the roadmap. The roadmap was a very good idea. The
problem is we have gotten off course, as you well know. And I think
to get it back on course, its going to require Americas
president to be engaged over a long period of time with his his
or her secretary of State. (Arab
American Institute, October 17, 2003)
We must demand America's active and continuous
involvement in addressing the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians
and in promoting democracy throughout the Arab world. We must commit
to developing a national strategy for energy security, one that would
reduce our reliance on the Middle East for such critical resources.
-Senator Edwards in the Washington Post, (9/19/2002) (Rescue
Edwards on Hamas, Terrorist Cells at January 4 Iowa
The other thing we're -- we know is that we know that
terrorist cells exist all over this country -- Islamic Jihad -- they're
everywhere -- Hamas. We need to do a much more effective job of putting
humans inside those terrorist cells so that we can stop them before
they do us harm. (Washington
Post, January 5, 2004)
Edwards statement to Jewish Telegraphic Agency
I will play an active role in promoting peace between
Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab states not just through
words and promises, but through sustained, high-level engagement, including
by appointing a senior envoy, answering directly to me, to move this
I support a two-state solution, with the Jewish state
of Israel and a legitimate, democratic and territorially viable Palestinian
state living side by side in peace.
All the specific differences between Israel and the
Palestinians must be solved through dialogue and negotiation, not terrorism
The Israeli people deserve to live without the fear
of terrorism, and the Palestinian people deserve to live under a representative
government that fights terrorism, ends corruption and supports fundamental
As long as the Palestinian leadership fails to end
terror, Israel has a right to take measures to defend itself. Such defensive
measures are not the cause of terrorism they are the response
Yet, these measures should not be a substitute for
negotiations that can lead to a long-term settlement. To achieve peace,
both sides recognize that they will have to make difficult choices.
But these decisions must be made by the parties themselves,
not imposed from the outside. I believe that the United States and others
in the international community must stand ready to support the Israelis
and the Palestinians as they make these difficult decisions. (JTA,
January 7, 2004)
Edwards on the fence and Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Well first I understand, Israel's ____ tactic__ that
they needed to do something with the wall. The wall will not replace
negotiations between the parties and the reality is without American
engagement there is no meaningful chance of anything positive happening.
What I would do if I was President of the United States, is first make
certain America has sustained and presence and engagement in Israel
which means having Secretaries or Secretary of State envoy there. Second,
find ways to bring the parties to some feelings of trust which don't
presently exist, for example, going to the Palestinians and saying "we
know that these two leaders of Hamas are engaged in terrorism, they
should be arrested," and in exchange the Israelis should allow
freer passage in the West Bank. To try to create some level of trust
so that we can go forward with the more difficult issues, the wall,
Jerusalem, the right of return. And third, go to the Palestinians, particularly
those within the PA, who actually want to reform, and find ways of empowering
these people. Because there are ways, we have that ability to provide
support and empowerment, economic assistance, other ways to find ways
to help those who actually want to move towards peace and toward a two
state solution. (Concord, NH on Jan. 8, 2004)
Edwards on Kerry Administration
A new president will bring the world to our side, and
with it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in the Middle
East, including a safe and secure Israel. (Speech to the Democratic
National Convention, July 28, 2004).
Edwards in Vice Presidential Debate
IFILL: Senator Edwards, as we wrap up the foreign policy
part of this, I do want to talk to you about the Israeli-Palestinian
Today, a senior member of Islamic Jihad was killed
in Gaza. There have been suicide bombings, targeted assassinations,
mortar attacks, all of this continuing at a time when the United States
seems absent in the peace-making process.
What would your administration do?
First of all, do you agree that the United States
is absent? Maybe you don‘t.
But what would your administration do to try to resolve
EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I do agree that we‘ve
been largely absent, not entirely absent, but largely absent from the
peace-making process over the last four years.
And let me just say a couple of preliminary things
and then talk about where we are now.
First, the Israeli people not only have the right
to defend themselves, they should defend themselves. They have an obligation
to defend themselves.
I mean, if I can, just for a moment, tell you a personal
story. I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, actually three years
ago, in August of 2001, staying at the King David Hotel.
We left in the morning, headed to the airport to leave,
and later in the day I found out that that same day, not far from where
we were staying, the Sbarro Pizzeria was hit by a suicide bomber in
Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed. Six children were killed.
What are the Israeli people supposed to do? How can
they continue to watch Israeli children killed by suicide bombers, killed
They have not only the right to the obligation to
Now, we know that the prime minister has made a decision,
an historic decision, to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It‘s
important for America to participate in helping with that process.
Now, if Gaza‘s being used as a platform for
attacking the Israeli people, that has to be stopped. And Israel has
a right to defend itself. They don‘t have a partner for peace
right now. They certainly don‘t have a partner in Arafat, and
they need a legitimate partner for peace.
And I might add, it is very important for America
to crack down on the Saudis who have not had a public prosecution for
financing terrorism since 9/11. And it‘s important for America
to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat
to Israel and to the Israeli people. (Vice Presidential Debate, October