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Israel

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DEUTCH. I appreciate the opportunity to be here following those series of speeches delivered that lead perfectly into the discussion that we're here to have.

This is a crucial moment for the State of Israel, for the United States, for the relationship that binds us together. This is an important moment for those who believe in democracy and for those who believe in peace. We will all be watching what transpires at the United Nations in the coming days as the Palestinians continue to move forward with an ill-fated attempt to create a state that can only be created by negotiation.

I appreciate the opportunity to engage in a discussion with some of my colleagues, and I would like to start by recognizing my neighbor and my friend, the gentlelady from Florida, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.

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Mr. DEUTCH. Thank you very much. The same to you.

I would note the President also spoke today at some length about the need to recognize Israel's security interests. The fact that Israel is a country that is surrounded by enemies, that has faced rocket attacks, barrages, at times on a regular basis, that it is imperative that all of our allies around the world who understand the security threats that Israel faces, that they understand that it is in Israel's interest to take the action necessary to defend herself even as they move toward the negotiations with the Palestinians. That's something that every nation would understand.

I appreciate your bringing that up today.

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Mr. DEUTCH. Thank you, Congresswoman Lowey.

There are few in this body who understand as well as you the importance of weighing the decisions to allocate United States' foreign aid and where that money goes. You have been such a vocal and passionate supporter of aid to Israel in order to give Israel the ability to defend herself. I think you spoke eloquently about the questions that will be raised if the P.A. continues to move forward on this gambit at the United Nations, calling into question their commitment to negotiation and ultimately raising the reevaluation of aid to the Palestinians.

I thank you very much for sharing that with us.

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Mr. DEUTCH. Thank you very much, Representative Berkley.

If there is going to be peace, you are absolutely right: that is peace that will come through negotiations. And I am not sure what type of negotiating tactic it is to, on the one hand, say that there is a commitment to negotiating, but at the same time to run to the United Nations to unilaterally declare a state in a way that only seeks to delegitimize your so-called peace partner.

Israel is committed to peace. We've seen that time and time again. Prime Minister Netanyahu is set, ready to negotiate. It is time that the P.A. moves forward with negotiations. I appreciate your insight and your commentary.

I would tell that you that as you spoke about Hamas, the P.A. made a decision also to move into a partnership with that terrorist organization, a terrorist organization that still holds Gilad Shalit captive and refuses to let the world see him, meet with him. He should be released.

This is a message that was given to Hamas, to the P.A. directly, in a meeting that I was privileged to participate in on a bipartisan trip to Israel some months back. I was pleased to be on that trip with our friend from California, Representative Cardoza.

I am pleased to yield the gentleman as much time as he desires.

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Mr. DEUTCH. I thank you, Mr. Crowley.

The most important point to make right now in listening to you and listening to Mr. Cardoza and listening to the gentleman from California who spoke earlier from the other side, this is not a partisan issue. This is not a religious issue. This is a question of whether we stand together in support of democratic ideals, in support of the safety and security of our ally. That's what is at stake here, and I thank you for coming to so eloquently and passionately speak to that issue.

Mr. CROWLEY. Let me just make one point. There is partisanship. There are those who would use this opportunity to divide. Not here in the United States, not Republicans and Democrats, but around the world. This is a world forum we're talking about in the U.N., and what I want our allies to know and our friends to know is that we're watching--those who will stand with the State of Israel and those who will not.

Mr. DEUTCH. I thank the gentleman. Efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel at the United Nations must be opposed at every capital in this world. I thank you very much.

It is my pleasure to recognize my friend and colleague, a passionate supporter of the State of Israel who hails from a community in Illinois with an equally passionate zeal for the safety and security of the State of Israel, Representative Schakowsky.

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Mr. DEUTCH. And I thank you, Congresswoman Schakowsky. Your talk about the President's statement today is important. Equally important is what the administration has been doing leading up to that speech today, in the way that the U.N. Ambassador has continued to press our allies, in the way that this administration has been clear throughout that if this movement goes forward, if the Palestinians continue to go to the Security Council, that the United States will veto that resolution because it is not a way to achieve peace. I appreciate your sharing those thoughts and raising those issues with us.

It is a great privilege for me now to turn over the floor and yield to my friend, who is one of the fiercest defenders of the U.S.-Israel relationship, one of the most outspoken Members of this body when it comes to standing up for the safety and security of the State of Israel and someone who has steadfastly remained engaged in this issue, even traveling to New York, before coming back to Washington, to speak directly to those who will be making decisions at the United Nations, a good friend and a great colleague, Eliot Engel.

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Mr. DEUTCH. I thank you very much, Mr. Engel, for your passionate words.

I think it's important, as we wrap this up, to think about why it is and to remind our colleagues and the American people why it is that we are so committed to this bond with Israel, and we do it because the bond with Israel runs deeper than our interests in Middle East affairs. It runs deeper than mutual security interests. Our bond is born out of the values that our two nations share, the values of freedom, of respect, of human rights. We as Americans share those values with the

people of Israel. They are universal values, American values. They span religious and political parties. They bring people together from all walks of life. They are the things that some of Israel's neighbors are losing their lives fighting for, the values that Israel holds dear as a great democracy in the Middle East and in the world.

Israel faces one of its greatest challenges, a worldwide campaign to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state. The United States must continue to remind the world why it is that we stand in solidarity with Israel.

I urge our allies around the world to stand with us now in urging the Palestinians to abandon this misguided and dangerous quest. If Mr. Abbas seeks a state where the Palestinian people can truly prosper, a peaceful state, then he will look to Israel as a partner. He will understand why negotiations provide the only path to peace; and he will take his seat at the negotiating table.

To our whip, Steny Hoyer, who helped us arrange this hour, and to my colleagues who participated, and to everyone who has tuned in even for a moment, I want to say thank you, thank you for giving us the opportunity to stand up at this most difficult and crucial moment in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship and remind our allies from around the world--and every nation from around the world--just how strong and unbreakable the bond between our two nations is.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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