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Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Speaker, I rise today regarding H. Res. 867 condemning the United Nation's Goldstone Report on last winter's conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, which the House of Representatives considered today. I am unable to attend today's legislative session, but had I been present I would have voted ``aye.''
The right of our close friend and ally Israel to defend itself from rocket fire originating in the Gaza Strip is without question. Since 2000, over 9,000 rockets have fallen on the residents of southern Israel, who live in constant fear of this violent terrorism. Since Hamas took over the leadership in Gaza, the number of rockets fired has increased considerably, and the range of these rockets is ever expanding.
The situation in the Gaza Strip remains unsustainable. The ongoing blockade and the damage to the territory inflicted during the recent conflict have caused great hardship to many innocent Palestinian's living in Gaza. This situation is only made worse by Hamas, who embed themselves in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and use innocent Palestinians as human shields during the conflict.
Judge Richard Goldstone has previously investigated war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. His report on the Gaza war contains many accusations of troubling actions taken by both sides during the recent conflict. I have extreme reservations regarding the history of the United Nations Human Rights Council and it is troubling that their original mandate focused solely in Israel and ignored Hamas' clear violations of international law. I applaud Judge Goldstone for his insistence on changing that mandate to include investigations of both sides, however the pattern of bias exhibited by the UNHRC is troubling and difficult to ignore. Therefore, I would not support any further action by the United Nations that unfairly singles out Israel, and would urge the administration to work to actively defeat any such attempts.
I believe many of the allegations in the report are serious, and the most appropriate course of action to take would be for the Israelis and Palestinians to each commission independent investigations into their countries respective conduct during the war. The war in Gaza last winter brought terrible suffering to both the Israelis in southern Israel and Palestinians in Gaza and this cannot be ignored.
The recent conflict makes it clearer than ever that the endless cycle of violence has done nothing to bring peace or security to the region. I applaud the Obama administration for their commitment to a two state solution that represents the best chance for a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. I urge both sides to start negotiations as soon as possible.