STATEMENT BY REP. MCKINNEY ON THE
CURRENT SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
October 25, 2000
I strongly condemn the escalation into political violence between Israel and the Palestinians. The murders of the Israeli policemen in Ramallah are regrettable, adding to the terrible human toll that has been mounting over the last two weeks.
I stand with other members of the Congress in strongly deploring the loss of life -- both Palestinian and Israeli -- especially the tragic deaths of so many women, children and the elderly.
I support the Clinton administration's recent diplomatic intervention at the Sharm El-Shiekh summit, as well as promises by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to end the bloodshed. We must continue to work with both sides to end the current tragedy. It is important for the United States and the rest of the international community to encourage both sides to quickly resume negotiations on a permanent peace agreement.
I also support the creation of a U.S.-led board of inquiry to determine the exact causes of the most recent outbreak of violence. It is equally important for the United States, in its indispensable role as mediator, to retain its credibility as an honest broker and to refrain from assigning blame to either party pending the results of the probe.
A rush to judgment, before the facts can be gathered and presented, would be precipitous and could cause further loss of life. It is important for the Congress to avoid making any steps that may have a potentially harmful impact on efforts at reaching a just peace and permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians at this crucial time.
The Oslo peace accords, which enshrine the principle of land-for-peace, were intended to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and lead to the birth of a Palestinian state. We must reaffirm our support for all diplomatic efforts of this process to continue until it reaches its conclusion.
Currently, the Palestinian Authority exercises full control over 11 percent of the West Bank, with partial administrative control of an additional 30 percent. The Palestinian Authority has exclusive control over 55-percent of the Gaza Strip, with Israel retaining military control of the remainder in defense of 13 Jewish settlements there. Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, along with border closures and other restrictions, which are forms of collective punishment, are not solutions to the current tensions.
The best way to safeguard the security and legitimate aspirations of both Israel and the Palestinians is through negotiations. Clearly, both sides must continue to work together to end the political violence and ensure the safety of all of their people.