U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit, an annual event held by the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over one million members. In the speech, Inhofe addressed the recent Israeli ground invasion in the Gaza strip; a funding provision for the Iron Dome in the FY'15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); the decision of the Obama Administration to ease Iranian sanctions; and the need for the United States to continue its strong support of Israel.
As prepared for delivery:
Thank you for inviting me to speak this morning, and I want to especially thank Pastor John Hagee for organizing this Washington Summit.
The timing of this Summit could not be more appropriate because the nation of Israel is under attack.
In the Gaza Strip, there have been over 1,700 Hamas rockets fired into Israel with Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem targeted.
Israel has responded with airstrikes and ground troops to silence these Hamas terrorists.
Hamas terrorizes not only Israel, but their own people by purposely placing rocket launchers in the middle of their own population centers -- in homes, hospitals and mosques -- to kill their own kids.
Despite Israel's extensive precautionary measures to avoid collateral damage, casualties unfortunately have occurred. And Hamas bears complete responsibility for these civilian deaths - for killing their own kids!
As Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated: "Israel is using missile defense to protect our citizens, and Hamas is using their civilians to protect their missiles."
To date, Israel's missile defense system called Iron Dome has successfully intercepted 301 Hamas rockets heading for populated areas in Israel.
I was just in Israel last month and visited the Iron Dome battery and the young Israeli troops that operate it in the southern city of Ashkelon, the same battery you see on TV every night intercepting Hamas rockets coming from the Gaza Strip 13 kilometers away.
I am sure the beautiful young First Lieutenant I met in charge of the Ashkelon battery down there is doing her duty right now, and bravely protecting her fellow citizens. Here she is. Her name is Lee Shmulevitch and I salute her.
I also want to salute the country of Egypt which has been a strong ally to Israel and the U.S. in the past year. Since the removal of President Morsi and his radical Muslim Brotherhood last July, newly elected President Sisi has successfully destroyed over 90 percent of the tunnels going from Sinai into Gaza and used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and contraband goods that support its terrorist state. Egypt has also battled Al Qaeda elements in the Sinai that flocked there during Morsi's rule. Thanks to these efforts, Egypt has closed the back door on Hamas and is now allowing the Israeli military to concentrate on destroying those tunnels Hamas has dug out of Gaza into Israel and is using for launching attacks on Israeli civilians.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am proud to say that I have been a constant supporter of the development and deployment of the Iron Dome system. In this year's Defense bill, I led a bi-partisan effort that not only supported full funding of Iron Dome at $176 million, but also added another $175 million for Iron Dome and other Israeli missile defense programs.
I have also been a strong supporter of fully funding longer range Israeli missile defense systems like David's Sling & the Arrow III, which are jointly developed by the US and Israel. These missile defense systems are designed to intercept ballistic missile threats from the Middle East region including the looming nuclear threat posed by Iran.
And Israel has no greater threat to its existence than Iran.
I am convinced that Iran won't stop its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and a means to deliver it, which our public intelligence reports say will be achieved by 2015.
What is Obama doing? He's offering a nuclear agreement with Iran that has undermined years of bipartisan sanctions that were working.
As part of the President's agreement to ease Iran sanctions in January, he is endorsing Iran's right to enrich uranium. He allowed Iran to keep 19,000 centrifuges while unlocking $7 billion in assets. This was all in exchange for a promise by Iran to briefly pause only its nuclear enrichment activities--meanwhile development of other key components of a nuclear weapon continue unabated. Iran is building a bomb and Obama is releasing sanctions.
We should immediately reinstate the full sanctions -- and consider additional sanctions -- and I have supported legislation to do just that.
There is little to show for Obama's reckless gamble for Israel. President Obama is negotiating with an Iranian regime that has repeatedly deceived us and concealed its nuclear program for over two decades. I see nothing different with this deal.
We should heed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's sentiments when he called the President's agreement a "historic mistake" that is making the "world a much more dangerous place."
History will prove he is right. Iran has long been known as one of the world's foremost rogue actors. Iran continues to violently repress its people, bankroll the slaughter of thousands of Syrians, support terrorism around the globe, and remains committed to the annihilation of the state of Israel.
And does anyone here believe that Iran is not involved with Hamas in rocketing Israel?
Obama must demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear program, not merely take its foot off of the accelerator.
Actions, not hollow promises, must be the basis of any long-term agreement. As I've said before, I don't trust Iran. I don't trust Rouhani. I don't trust Putin.
The turbulent times we face serve as a reminder why the United States and Israel must continue to work together to maintain a strong missile defense system. The same enemies that threaten the existence of Israel also want to destroy America.
Over the years, the United States has greatly benefited from cooperation with Israel on missile defense technologies . . . and we will keep it up!
And one last thing:
If you want to know why the land belongs to Israel go to my website and read the speech I gave on the Senate floor in 2002 that explains the legal, historical and scriptural reasons why the land belongs to Israel. Just go to: www.inhofe.senate.gov
Thank you again for inviting me to speak. And thank you Pastor Hagee for bringing us all together.
I don't want to think about where we, Israel and the U.S., would be today without this team here before me. You are doing the Lord's work, and he will richly bless you for it.