2004 Presidential Candidates' Views on the Middle East
"The United States has a special relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. As president, Dick Gephardt will continue to work tirelessly to foster that relationship and maintain military and economic aid to Israel.
Gephardt will expand federal jurisdiction over hate crimes at home, and he will work to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Gephardt will also re-engage the U.S. in the Middle East peace process which will enhance the long-term security of Israel while combating the intolerable acts of terror that have disrupted diplomacy in the region."
Record on Israel and Related Issues
"We will stand with Israel. We will stand for freedom. And we will stand for a future that brings peace and prosperity to all the people of the Middle East." Dick Gephardt
The United States has a special and longstanding relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. As president, Dick Gephardt will continue to work tirelessly to support that relationship and will continue military and economic aid. Gephardt will expand federal jurisdiction over hate crimes at home and work to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to clearly affirm American support for a whole Jerusalem at the center of the Israeli state.
Gephardt believes that the long-term security of Israel will be enhanced if meaningful and lasting peace agreements can be reached with the Palestinian people and its neighbors. President Gephardt will re-engage the U.S. in the peace process while combating the intolerable acts of terror that have disrupted diplomatic efforts.
Supporting Aid to Israel
Gephardt has steadfastly supported foreign aid to Israel and fought for increases in this aid as urgent security and other needs arose over the last two decades including funds for loan guarantees, security enhancements and peace initiatives. (New York Times, 11/19/98)
Working Tirelessly to Support U.S.-Israel Relationship
"Israel is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East."
When introduced at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in 1999, Gephardt was praised as "a trusted friend and ally of the pro-Israel community," and someone who has "worked tirelessly to support the U.S.-Israel relationship from your early days in the House." (AIPAC conference, 5/25/99)
Promoting Free Trade
"I believe with all my heart that if peace can be achieved in the Middle East, it will unleash an economic revival in the entire region."
As a Member of the House Ways and Means' Trade Subcommittee, Gephardt was intimately involved in the negotiations and passage of legislation to create U.S.-Israel economic cooperation through the United States-Israel Free Trade Act.
In 1994, Gephardt called on the federal government to explore free trade agreements with countries that sign peace agreements with Israel, creating an important incentive for countries to take more constructive policies toward Israel. This initiative contributed to the eventual US-Jordan free trade agreement. (House vote #89, HR 2268, 5/7/85; Gephardt letter to Congressional colleagues, 7/26/94)
Supporting Funding for Israel's Military
Gephardt has consistently supported funding for the joint U.S.- Israeli Arrow missile project, a system vital to Israel's security, and has regularly called on our government to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative military edge over hostile nations in the region. Gephardt also endorsed the deployment of US Patriot anti-missile systems to Israel during both the 1991 and current conflicts with Iraq. (CQ House Vote 457, 10/10/02; CQ House Vote 413, 7/19/00)
Demonstrating Solidarity with Israel
Gephardt has traveled to Israel several times to demonstrate solidarity with its people, consult directly with its leaders, and witness their determined struggle against terrorism. He and then-Speaker Gingrich led a Congressional delegation to Israel in 1998 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. (Washington Post, 5/25/98)
Authorizing Diplomatic and Military Action on Iraq
Recognizing the threat posed by Iraq to the U.S. and our allies in the region, Gephardt worked to forge a bipartisan policy in 2002 authorizing the president to engage in diplomatic and military means to address this threat. (House Joint Resolution 114, 10/10/02)
Gephardt at the Arab American Institute
The Middle East. If we dont lead in the Middle East, nobodys going to lead. Bill Clinton tried to lead and he tried to get the party in a place where they could solve this problem that needs to be solved. He understood that if we sat on the sidelines and just criticized everybody and had great things to say but didnt do anything we were never going to get anywhere. This president came in and said, well, its really not our problem. You know, weve done a lot with it but its not our problem, and when the parties figure it all out well be around to give a little help, but its not our problem. Not our problem? And he walked away. (Arab American Institute, October 18, 2003)
Gephardt at the Congressional Black Caucus/FOX News debates:
PERKINS: Congressman Gephardt, here in metro Detroit, we have one of the largest concentrations of Arab-Americans in this country. By and large, they love America. They're willing to die for this country.
But at the same time, some of them will tell you they do not see the world as we see it. In fact, in the eyes of some, groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorist groups, they are freedom fighters or defenders.
My question to you, would you be willing to negotiate with groups now labeled as terrorists if such an effort would end the suicide bombings in Israel and also possibly resolve the Middle East crisis?
GEPHARDT: I don't think you can negotiate with terrorists, people who have decided that violence is the way that they are going to settle their problems. But let me say this to you. I think this administration has failed in getting at the root causes of terrorism. I think they're just dealing with the symptoms of terrorism, and I support those efforts. You've got to stop someone from doing harm to the United States if they're bound and determined to do it. But we've got to get at the root causes. We've got to be a leader for peace in the Middle East. This administration walked away from the Middle East after this president came in office, said it wasn't our problem, we weren't going to really lead and do the things that we had been doing. ...Let me say this, if we're going to defeat terrorism, we've got to engage in countries across the world. We've got to fight against poverty, we've got to fight against bad governance, and we've got to say to people that are supporting terrorists, "This behavior cannot stand."
We've got to stop the support for terrorism. We need peace in the world, not terrorism. (Washington Post, October 27, 2003)
On Bush's Middle East Policy
In the Middle East, it has always been imperative that our nation maintain unflinching support for Israels security and an unwavering commitment to reduce violence and promote steps toward peace. In contrast, this administration has wavered between support and criticism for Israel, which, combined with a distinct effort to disengage from any dialogue, has frustrated the progress toward peace. (Foreign Policy)
On the American Embassy in Israel
"I don't see anything inconsistent with moving the embassy and getting a lasting peace agreement. That's what we voted for." (Source: Forward)
On Ariel Sharon
BROKAW: My question was do you think that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace?
And to add on to that, the president made the effort with the road to peace, so-called, and attempting to get new leadership out of the PLO. Do you think that that was not an honest effort on the president's part?
GEPHARDT: Tom, I think the people in Israel, the great majority want peace. They're willing to trade land for real peace. The people in Palestine, the great majority want peace and they're willing to give security for the land that they want for their state.
What's lacking in this equation is not the-you know, not the right leaders on either side, it's not having an American president who, like Bill Clinton and other American presidents, have gone out of their way to lead these other places to peace. He did it in Ireland. He tried to do it in the Middle East. Bosnia, Kosovo, we made great progress.
We need to be engaged in the world, and we need a president who will work with every country in this world to solve tough international problems. (Source: DNC Debate, 11/24/03)
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