Excerpts from a speech in the U.S. Senate, July 15, 2014
As Israel’s greatest partner and ally, the United States has weathered with Israel relentless attacks from terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, belligerence from rogue nations like Iran, and unremitting hostility from international organizations like the United Nations. As such, we are veritable brothers in arms—and who better than a brother to tell the truth about you?
The truth is that Israel is the one country in the Middle East that fully shares America’s fundamental values and interests.
The truth is that Israel is a vibrant, inclusive democracy that respects the rights of its citizens, Jewish and Arab alike.
The truth is that Israel has for more than six decades wanted nothing more than peace, and has repeatedly made significant concessions to achieve it . . .
These basic truths should inform any discussion of the current conflict taking place between Israel and the Palestinians . . .
Now is not the moment to suggest that Israel open itself up to further terrorist attack by, for example, withdrawing from the West Bank . . .
But now is the moment to support Israel in the effort to eliminate the intolerable threat of Hamas; and given Hamas’s commitment to terrorist violence, the Israeli response is by necessity military, and it must be decisive. This conflict is not of Israel’s choice. It is Hamas’s choice, and to argue that there is some sort of viable diplomatic alternative, as Mr. [Phillip] Gordon and President Obama did last week, is denying the truth . . .
President Obama wrote in his Ha’aretz op-ed that “while walls and missile defense systems can help protect against some threats, true safety will only come with a comprehensive negotiated settlement.” But that can only be true when both sides genuinely seek peaceful coexistence, which at this time, sadly, the Palestinians do not. Projects like the security barrier and Iron Dome may well be, both practically and philosophically, Israel’s only option. That the Israeli response to hostility out of the territories has been primarily defensive is an important illustration of their preferred approach to this problem, which is not to attack or destroy, but rather to protect and defend. This posture illustrates the fundamental difference between the Israelis, who have pledged they will stop fighting when the Palestinians stop fighting, and the Palestinians, who swear they will stop fighting only when Israel ceases to exist . . .
The Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy is setting the stage for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability, and if Iran acquires that capability, it will pose a grave if not mortal threat to the nation of Israel and to the United States. The strategy of the Obama administration relaxing sanctions first and then hoping to get some concessions later is putting the proverbial cart before the horse . . .
In the coming days, I will be filing legislation which will . . . re-impose strong sanctions on Iran, immediately. Strengthen those sanctions. Include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that these measures are implemented and call for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program, which should be the only path to relaxing sanctions in the future. This legislation will lay out a clear path that Iran can follow to avoid the sanctions: simply behave in good faith and stop its relentless march towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
The connection between Hamas and Iran is a sobering reminder of the larger context in which the events of the last month have taken place. They are not an isolated local issue that could be managed if only Israel would act with restraint. Both the United States and Israel want the Palestinian people to have a secure and prosperous future, free from the corrosive hatred that has so far prevented them from thriving. But, as has been demonstrated time and time again, the simple truth is that concessions from Israel are not going to alleviate the hatred.
The truth is that aid from the United States is not going to alleviate the hatred.
The truth is that even the establishment of a Palestinian state would not alleviate the hatred while the avowed policy of the Palestinian government is the destruction of Israel.
Only—only—when the Palestinians take it upon themselves to embrace their neighbors and to eradicate terrorist violence from their society can a real and just peace be possible.
Until then, there should be no question of the United States’ firm solidarity with Israel in the mutual defense of our fundamental values and interests. This is nothing less than the defense of our very exceptionalism as a nation—that same exceptionalism fueled by those G-d-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to which Israel aspires. v