WASHINGTON DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) today sponsored a bipartisan Resolution with House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (MO) to congratulate the Palestinian people for carrying out an historic and peaceful election and to congratulate the newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The text of Mr. Hoyer’s statement on the House floor is below:
“Mr. Speaker, I want to join my colleague and friend, the Majority Whip (Mr. Blunt) in urging Members on both sides of the aisle to support this important bipartisan Resolution that we have offered.
Over the last half century, the Members of this body have seldom had occasion to commend those on the Palestinian side, whose cause was hijacked by a leadership that preached death and destruction rather than reconciliation and peace.
But today, we would be remiss if we did not.
Three weeks ago, on January 9th, an estimated 70 percent of the 1.1 million registered Palestinian voters turned out to cast their ballots in an election that was declared fair by most international observers.
This strong turnout, in my judgment, not only reflects the universal appeal of democracy but also the human heart’s yearning for freedom and self-determination.
This Resolution commends the Palestinian people for conducting a free and fair election and congratulates the new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has previously disavowed terrorist activity and recently earned the praise of Israel for deploying more Palestinian security forces in Gaza to try to halt rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli citizens.
Among other provisions, this Resolution urges the new Palestinian leadership to advance democratic ideals by reforming its political structure, advancing human rights and ending corruption.
It strongly condemns terrorism and urges President Abbas to immediately take steps to dismantle the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, to bring terrorists to justice, and to end the incitement to hatred in the Palestinian media, schools, mosques and other institutions.
And it restates our nation’s strong commitment to and support for the State of Israel.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, let me say that the election of President Abbas is an important opportunity – and could prove to be a turning point – in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel has made repeated overtures in an effort to seek peace, and today continues to move forward with its withdrawal plan in the Gaza Strip.
Tragically, its efforts were consistently rebuffed by the Arafat-led Palestinian leadership.
Without question, there are great challenges ahead.
But the election of President Abbas hopefully marks a new day – a day in which the Palestinian leadership becomes a serious, committed partner for peace in the Middle East.”