WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today regarding a bipartisan resolution he sponsored with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay:
“Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support this important bipartisan resolution, which the Majority Leader (Mr. DeLay) and I have offered, along with the chairman and ranking member of the international relations committee (Mr. Hyde and Mr. Lantos).
“This is a balanced resolution, Mr. Speaker, that will further the cause of peace in the Middle East, enhance the security of our staunch ally – the democratic state of Israel – and move the Palestinian people closer to the realization of a homeland of their own. In short, this resolution does two things.
“First, it strongly endorses the principles for Middle East peace articulated by President Bush in his April 14th letter to Prime Minister Sharon. The members may recall that the president’s letter welcomed Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan, calling for the withdrawal of military installations and settlements from Gaza and the West Bank.
“The president believes that this plan will make a real contribution towards peace – and so do I. This plan, in my view, is a bold, historic opportunity to break the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian relations. In addition, the president, among other things:
• Reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the implementation of the roadmap to Middle East peace;
• Reiterated our commitment to Israel’s security;
• Insisted that the Palestinian side immediately cease all acts of violence and terror against Israel and her citizens;
• Expressed our support for the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent;
• Recognized that, in light of the reality on the ground, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949; and
• Indicated that any final status agreement will need to include the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
“Secondly, Mr. Speaker, this resolution supports continuing efforts by the international community to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel withdraws from posing a threat to the security of Israel.
“The plight of the Palestinian people must concern all of us. Their cause has been diminished by depraved and corrupt leaders, led by Yasir Arafat, who employ the tactics of terror, incite their people to hate and refuse to seek peace – thereby relegating their own people to poverty and severe insecurity.
“In fact, it is this absence of leadership on the Palestinian side, the absence of a sincere negotiating partner, that spurred Prime Minister Sharon to propose his recent disengagement plan – which is supported not only by President Bush, but also John Kerry and members on both sides of the aisle here.
“Thus, again, Mr. Speaker, Israel has stepped up and shown its willingness to take risks for peace and security. And let no one be mistaken about the special relationship that has existed between our two nations since the state of Israel was founded. Ours is a relationship of principle and conscience, of shared values and common aspirations, of peace and opportunity, and of a mutual commitment to freedom and democracy. This resolution is an important statement by this House. I urge all of my colleagues to support it.”