In so many ways, the political, diplomatic and military situation in the Middle East is vexing. I strongly support Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. I likewise recognize that mounting a military defense against Hezbollah terrorists in urban settings is impossible to do without causing the loss of innocent civilian life, damage to civilian infrastructure and a humanitarian crisis.
I believe that it is important that the United States examine what it can do to end the violence in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, in additional to commenting on what the states and actors in the region are doing.
All sides need to take immediate steps to break the cycle of violence so that long-term peace negotiations can resume. Each side must assume responsibility for stopping the escalation of violence and retaliation. No one in the region is going to feel secure until real progress is made on a long-term resolution to the many issues that divide Israel, the Palestinians and other countries in the region.
I value the close relationship between the United States and Israel that has developed over the last half century. It is clear that the State of Israel has become an integral part of the Middle East and normalizing relations between Israel and its neighbors is critically important to future economic development and security in the region.
Addressing the plight of the Palestinian people must be a part of any long-term solution. It is simply unacceptable for the Palestinian people to spend another fifty years living in refugee camps. Creating political stability is a prerequisite for developing economic opportunity and hope for the future.
I believe that strong support for a Middle East peace process is clearly in the best interest of the United States. As we have under previous administrations, the United States should play a leadership role in working constructively to secure a permanent peace in the Middle East.