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Congress & the Middle East:
House & Senate Letters Urge President To Stick to Peace Principles

(June 27, 2008)


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In letters sent to President Bush, 88 Senators and 319 Representatives expressed strong support for the clear principles required to reach peace between Israeli and Palestinians laid out by the president in a landmark speech last June 24. The Senate letter was authored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Dick Durbin (R-IL) and John Ensign (R-NV), while the House version was authored by Reps. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA). Text of the letters follows:

Senate Letter

Dear Mr. President:

We share with you the hope that new possibilities will be presented for peace and security in the Middle East for both Israelis and Palestinians.

As you work to resume peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, we write to express our support for the guiding principles you outlined in your June 24th speech. These principles are the establishment of a new Palestinian leadership that is transparent, accountable, free from the taint of terrorism, willing and able to dismantle terrorist networks and committed to overhauling the Palestinian security apparatus so that it truly fights terrorism, rather than engage in it. While recent political changes in the Palestinian Authority are a positive step, it is only the start of what is needed for the Palestinian people to begin to see the realization of their political aspirations.

Many are urging you to short circuit this process and to focus on timelines, rather than benchmarks of real performance. Actions- no just promises- are necessary for real progress. As we have learned from recent history, without a new, empowered Palestinian leadership that is firmly committed to fighting terror, there is no one with whom to negotiate and no point in making unilateral concessions.

The United States has developed a level of credibility and trust with all parties in the region which no other country shares. In addition, the parties themselves must engage in order for progress to be lasting. Adding other parties, who do not have the confidence of one or more of the principals, will be counter-productive.

In summary, Mr. President, we share you r belief that real changes in the Palestinian leadership provide the possibility to once again explore opportunities to bring real peace to that troubled region of the world. Only by holding fast to those principles you outlined in your June 24th speech can we hope to end the 30 months of terror that have lead to nothing but misery for both Israelis and Palestinians.

House Letter

Dear Mr. President:

On the eve of dramatic changes in the Middle East, we share with you the hope that new opportunities will develop in the region - opportunities for a more democratic and peaceful region with fewer direct threats to the United States and our interests. Recent political changes in the Palestinian Authority also should provide new opportunities to begin a meaningful negotiating process with Israel.

We applaud your willingness to request significant new assistance for Israel in your supplemental request, which will allow Israel to bear more easily some of the burdens of the current war to disarm and liberate Iraq.

We write to express our support for your efforts to resume peace negotiations based on the clear principles you outlined in your June 24th speech. Those principles should underline and guide any "roadmap" towards peace:

  • above all, Palestinian terror and violence must cease;
  • a new Palestinian leadership - with real authority - needs to be established, free from the taint of terrorism and willing and able to dismantle the terrorist network;
  • there needs to be true accountability and transparency in Palestinian governance; and
  • the Palestinian security apparatus must be overhauled so that it truly fights terrorism, rather than engages in it.

Only then can the Palestinian people begin to see some of their political aspirations realized and only then can we expect Israel to respond with concrete actions.

Many are urging you to short circuit this process and to focus on timelines in achieving the roadmap's benchmarks. We believe that you will not be dissuaded and will focus instead on real performance. Without a new, empowered Palestinian leadership that is firmly engaged in fighting terror, Israel has no one with whom to negotiate.

The United States has developed a level of credibility and trust with all parties in the region which no other country shares. We are concerned that certain nations or groups, if given a meaningful role in monitoring progress made on the ground, might only lessen the chances of moving forward on a realistic path towards peace.

In summary, Mr. President, we share your belief that real changes in the Palestinian leadership provide the possibility to explore once again opportunities to bring real peace to that troubled region of the world. We support your consistent effort to bring about such changes. Only by holding fast to those principles and working closely with the government of Israel and new leaders in the Palestinian Authority can we hope to end the 30 months of terror that have led to nothing but misery for both Palestinians and Israelis.


Sources: AIPAC

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