ON THE CONFLICT BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HEZBOLLAH -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2006)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to express my extreme concern that the fragile peace in the Middle East could easily fall apart if we continue to sit idly by and watch Lebanon and the UN troops do virtually nothing to disarm the Hezbollah terrorist group.
It seems to me that the international community may be in serious danger of repeating mistakes from the past. More than 2 years ago, the UN passed Security Council Resolution 1559, which called on Lebanon to disarm militias operating within the country's borders, including the Hezbollah terrorist group. Two years later, rather than seeing Hezbollah disarm, we saw a resurgent militia that raided an Israeli military post and started a month long conflict. Lebanon clearly failed to meet its requirements under the Security County resolution and Hezbollah actually got stronger with more weapons smuggled in from Iran and Syria.
Now we are in the process of implementing Security Council Resolution 1701, and there is plenty of reason to worry that the same thing will happen all over again. Hezbollah is refusing to disarm and refusing to let UNIFIL, the expanded UN force in the region, take any action against them. The Lebanese government seems to be giving Hezbollah a pass as well, saying that they will let the terrorist group keep their weapons, as long as they remain hidden.
What is worse, the UN force is sitting in Lebanon with little clue as to what they are supposed to do. They are apparently operating only at the behest of the Lebanese government, which doesn't seem to want the international troops to take any action.
The fact remains, however, that Hezbollah dominated Southern Lebanon and became a proxy for Iran and Syria because the Lebanese government was unwilling to take action and because the Lebanese army was incapable of using real force. If the UN troops aren't there to actually help carry out the terms of Resolution 1701, what exactly are they doing in the region?
Mr. Speaker, just as troubling is the fact that Lebanon seems to want to do little to control their border with Syria, where most of Hezbollah's arms are being smuggled through. They have declined to invite international forces to deploy along that border, even though it is clear that the Lebanese army cannot do what it takes to control and secure crossings between the two countries. Leaving this at the discretion of the Lebanese government is a recipe for deja vu, a rearming of Hezbollah and a renewal of the recent conflict.
Mr. Speaker, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has made it clear that they have no intention of complying with the demands of the resolution. He announced last week that the terrorist group has no intention of surrendering its weapons, and even threatened the international forces not to try. I cannot comprehend why the United States and the international community would stay silent in the face of such blatant defiance of international will.
It is clear that President Bush must show decisive leadership to urge the international community to take measures needed to accomplish the goals of Security Council Resolution 1701. Lebanon cannot be allowed to continue to hold international forces at bay while it does nothing to confront Hezbollah's operations.
The U.S. and other nations cannot sit idly by and watch a terrorist group rearm and regroup in preparation for attacking Israel again and further destabilizing the region. The international force needs to be beefed up closer to the authorized level of 15,000 troops and given the mandate it needs to ensure compliance with the resolution.
Mr. Speaker, we also must take action to let Hezbollah supporters, Syria and Iran, know that the international community will not turn a blind eye towards their blatant support of terrorism against Israel. The U.S. must implement the full range of sanctions under the Syria Accountability Act until it is clear that Syria is no longer funneling weapons and other support to Hezbollah.
Mr. Speaker, if we are serious about maintaining stability in the Middle East and moving towards a lasting peace, then we need to be serious in our oversight of the implementation of the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. Standing by and watching will only embolden the terrorists
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Marchant). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) is recognized for 5 minutes.
(Mr. JONES of North Carolina addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.