On Israel and the Flotilla Incident
I rise today to express my support for a right all nations hold: the right to secure borders and self-defense.
Our close ally, Israel, shares a border with Gaza, a region controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas. Since 2001, thousands of rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel, killing more than a dozen Israelis, wounding hundreds, and terrifying thousands of Israeli citizens in their range.
We also know that Hamas receives material support from Iran, an international pariah that oppresses its own citizens while funding terrorist organizations throughout the region.
For these reasons, Israel has chosen to restrict imports to the Gaza Strip, insisting that all deliveries must be inspected to make sure that weapons are not smuggled into the territory.
Today I call on Hamas’ leadership to reject their past support of terrorism, renounce violence, and embrace the two-state solution, so that Israelis and Palestinians can live their lives freely, in peace and security.
I also call on all powers in the Middle East to value human life and do everything possible to avoid bloodshed. The loss of life in the flotilla incident was tragic, and I look forward to the findings of the recently formed Independent Public Commission, which will examine such issues as the naval blockade of Gaza, actions taken by the Commandos during flotilla incident, and the identities and conduct of the organizers and participants of the flotilla. In the mean time, we must focus on avoiding escalation, preventing more violence, and continuing the peace process. The greatest tragedy would be to allow the flotilla incident to end the region’s prospects for peace.