Nancy Pelosi Speech to American
Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]
Text of Remarks, 5/24/05
WASHINGTON, May 24 /U.S. Newswire/ --
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee at their 2005 Policy Conference last
night. Pelosi discussed the relationship between the United States
and Israel and the continued effort for peace between Israelis
and Palestinians. Below are her remarks:
"Thank you, Amy Friedkin, my dear
friend for so many years. Californians, North and South, are proud
of your great leadership at AIPAC. And to Bernice Manocherian,
President of AIPAC, thank you. All who care about peace in the
Middle East are grateful for your strength and wisdom in guiding
AIPAC. As a native of Baltimore, I take special pride of your
incoming President, Howard Friedman, who will continue in the
tradition of outstanding leadership at AIPAC.
"I also want to acknowledge all
of the students who are here. It is great to see so many young
people taking such an interest in public affairs, especially on
one of the critical issues of our time: peace in the Middle East.
This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that
also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most
powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over
the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged
to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field
was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows
in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.
"And then we were told that the
reason we had to land in that field, as opposed to our actual
destination, was because there had been an infiltration that morning,
and they weren't sure how secure the area was. And that point
alone brought us back to the daily reality of Israel: even moments
of peace and beauty are haunted by the specter of violence.
"While in Israel, we met with Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them
and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in
a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different
from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years
"One thing, however is unchanged:
America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of
Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable
bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship.
"Prime Minister Sharon's leadership
of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable. He has brought
Israel through an extremely challenging period, and now he has
made the difficult decision that it is in Israel's national security
interest to disengage from Gaza.
"In the next few months, Israeli
settlers will be evacuated entirely from Gaza and from four settlements
in the northern West Bank. This courageous decision is gut-wrenching
"Israel's decision can be a decisive
milestone on the road to peace. If the Palestinians agree to coordinate
with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and
demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that
finally there is a real partner for peace.
"Any progress on the Roadmap for
Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced
by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian
security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it.
"Fortunately, Palestinian Authority
President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism
in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian
goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant,
stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure
the security services. All that is commendable.
"But he has not removed Arafat's
corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle
the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause
for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish
the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize
that vision, and now he is confronted with a huge challenge: by
the end of summer, Israel will be out of Gaza.
"Can Gaza become a pilot case for
self-government for a Palestinian state? Or will it become a terrorist
haven, a launching pad for rockets into Israel? President Abbas
must act, for his own good, against those he must know are his
enemies and are the enemies of the aspirations of the Palestinian
"The United States, just as Israel,
wants to see him succeed. That is why I was so pleased when President
Bush dispatched Jim Wolfensohn to help with the Gaza withdrawal.
It is why I supported additional aid to the Palestinians in the
Emergency Supplemental bill that recently passed Congress.
"There are those who contend that
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth,
the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never
has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.
"The greatest threat to Israel's
right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now
comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties
in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the
Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed
ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.
"Proliferation represents a clear
threat to Israel and to America. It must be confronted by an international
coalition against proliferation, with a commitment and a coalition
every bit as strong as our commitment to the war against terror.
"The people of Israel long for peace
and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope
that peace and security come soon - and that this moment of opportunity
is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she
will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.
"In the words of Isaiah, we will
make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and
shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places;
as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.'
"The United States will stand with
Israel now and forever. Now and forever."
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