2004 Presidential Candidates' Views on the Middle East
(Rep. Kucinich's statement on House Resolution 392, expressing "solidarity with Israel" as it battles "the terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian areas" -- May 2002)
I declare my support for the State of Israel and for the security of the Israeli people. I also declare my support for a Palestinian state and for the security of the Palestinian people. So I will vote present today because I believe the security of Israel requires the security of the Palestinians.
I will vote present because I believe the United States can do better through honest brokering, and a principled commitment to peaceful coexistence.
Today, we are missing an opportunity to lead people of the Middle East toward a secure and stable future together. This resolution equates Israel's dilemma, which is the outcome of the Palestinian's struggle for self-determination, with the United States' campaign against the criminal organization, Al Queda.
Unfortunately, our own policy is undefined, amorphous, without borders, without limits, and without congressional oversight. For this Congress to place the historic Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the context of the current fashion of US global policy pitches Israelis and Palestinians alike into a black hole of policy without purpose, and conflict without resolution.
The same humanity that requires us to acknowledge with profound concerns the pain and suffering of the people of Israel requires a similar expression for the pain and suffering of the Palestinians. When our brothers and sisters are fighting to the death, instead of declaring solidarity with one against the other, should we not declare solidarity with both for peace, so that both may live in security and freedom?
If we seek to require the Palestinians, who do not have their own state, to adhere to a higher standard of conduct, should we not also ask Israel, with over a half century experience with statehood, to adhere to the basic standard of conduct, including meeting the requirements of international law?
There is a role for Congress and the Administration in helping to bring a lasting peace in the Middle East; however, this resolution does not create that role. After today we will still need to determine a course of action to bring about peace. This course will require multilateral diplomacy, which strengthens cooperation among all countries in the region. It will require focused, unwavering attention. It will require sufficient financial resources. And it will require that our nation have the political will to bring about a true, a fair, and a sustainable resolution of the conflict.
When this Congress enters into the conflict and takes sides between Israel and Palestine we do not help to achieve peace, but the opposite. Similarly, the Administration should consider that when it conducts a war against terrorism without limits the principle of war is quickened everywhere in the world, including the Middle East. When it talks incessantly about invading Iraq, the tempo of war is picked up everywhere.
If we truly want peace in the Middle East, this resolution is counter-productive. I will vote present because I do not believe that this resolution dignifies the role towards creating peace, which this Congress can and must fulfill. (Kucinich for President)
Kucinich at the Arab American Institute:
As the next President of the United States, it would be my intention and my goal, and my concerted effort with all my heart to work to achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, to understand that the security of Israel depends upon the security of the Palestinian people, and that in order to achieve security for all parties, we must stand not only for an autonomous Palestinian state, but as the gentleman who so kindly introduced me pointed out, we must also see the rebuilding of all of those areas that are now in the Palestinian territories, those areas that have been devastated, those areas where the homes have been wrecked, and the businesses have been wrecked, the infrastructure destroyed, because to talk about political autonomy is a mirage, unless you talk about economic vitality. So there must be jobs, there must be healthcare, there must be education, there must be an opportunity for people to be able to breathe, and to be able to live freely. I think that's possible. I think there are many people in Israel who understand how important is it for the Palestinian people to achieve not only autonomy, but economy viability.
So my plan would be to achieve that, and to work towards that. And I think the United States can help to foster that. The United States can help to foster a negotiating structure, where we get both parties to agree on the sharing of water rights, because water rights can be the basis of further conflict, and they can also be the basis of further cooperation. And we must use our influence in construction a negotiating climate, where we can move towards getting the parties to agree to share water rights. So, too, we must move forward to create a circumstance where the parties will understand that the security of one depends on the security of the other, and there must be mutual agreements to provide security. And as we foster that kind of climate for negotiations, we can then enable the parties to come to those decisions which truly Israelis and Palestinians must be able to resolve on their own, and that we cannot force a decision on these matters of borders and right of return. I think we can create a climate to cause the parties to resolve those issues.
There's a few other things the United States can and must do, and we must do them now. We must use our considerable influence with Israel to ask Israel to stop building walls, ask Israel to tear down the walls, ask Israel to not participate in the building of any new settlements, because we have to recognize that in order to achieve peace we must stop anything that smacks of isolation, or of creating conditions which will make it that much more difficult to achieve a peaceful agreement. We must come from a place where we understand that we're all brothers and sisters, and when our brothers are killing each other, I believe it's for us to try to create circumstances where we can help heal both, so that both may live together and exist peacefully.
(Arab American Institute, October 17, 2003)
Kucinich on Israeli settlements
Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are unlawful and against the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. A Kucinich administration will vigorously oppose the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories and insist on the dismantlement of existing illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. (Arab American Institute questionnaire)
Return to 2004 Candidates Views on the Middle East