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SUPPORTING A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington

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Ms. BERKLEY. I would like to thank the gentleman from California for yielding and for his extraordinary leadership on this issue and on our committee for the last several years.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support for this important resolution because I am deeply concerned about the chances for Middle East peace. Over the last year, instead of negotiating directly with the Israelis, Palestinian leaders have turned their backs on peace talks. They have come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid negotiations, demanding that Israel stop construction in all settlements, including Israel's capital, before they'll even sit down to negotiate. When Israel took the courageous and difficult step of agreeing to a 10-month moratorium, that wasn't enough. They waited 9 of the 10 months, only coming to the table at the last possible moment. Meanwhile, rather than negotiating, the Palestinians have decided to pursue a unilateral strategy, seeking global recognition for their ``state'' instead of making peace with the State of Israel. Shamefully, several countries have even rewarded the Palestinian stonewalling instead of urging them to return to the negotiating table where they belong. The negotiating table is the only way to bring a true and lasting peace to the region. All peace-loving nations must reject this Palestinian manipulation and insist that they return immediately to negotiations. There is simply no other path to peace.

It is the Palestinians that have the most to lose if there isn't a negotiating path to peace. While Israel has a strong country and a good education system, a vibrant economy, a national identity, a cultural identity and a strong democracy, the Palestinians, because of their poor leadership, have absolutely none of those. And they will never get any of that until there is peace between the parties. The only way to do that is to sit down and negotiate in good faith. If I was Abu Mazen, you couldn't drag me away from the negotiating table. I would sit there until I delivered for my people a Palestinian State. It occurs to me that maybe that's not what his motives are. If he was interested in it, with a 10-month moratorium he should have started on day one of the moratorium instead of waiting until the end.

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