Mark Pocan
Press Release

Pocan Applauds Sec. Kerry’s Outline for Peace in Middle East

Pocan's Recent Trip to Israel and Palestine Supports Kerry's Arguments

By - Dec 28th, 2016 03:40 pm

MADISON – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) released this statement following Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech today outlining steps towards a peace process in the Middle East and condemning the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank:

“The United States has always been a close friend and ally of Israel. As we maintain this close friendship, we must also recognize when our friend is acting counter to our country’s own best interest. The recent expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank across the internationally recognized 1967 border has been a huge barrier to peace and the success of a two-state solution. Therefore, the United States must step up and try to help achieve peace in the Middle East, even when some may mistakenly think that is a step away from our long-standing friendship. In reality, that is the definition of friendship.

The US, as Israel’s close ally and friend, has a responsibility to oppose policies which are in direct conflict with our own values and the future security of Israeli and Palestinian people. Our intentions of strengthening peace in the Middle East have been clear from the start, and our long standing support through funding for missile defense systems and intelligence coordination with Israel certainly reflects that.

“Having recently visited Israel and Palestine, I have seen firsthand the barriers to peace including the continued and unbridled expansion of illegal settlements. Other measures must also be taken to make it easier for Palestinians to govern, travel, and work in their own area. It is in everyone’s interest to resolve the conflict and pursue a true two-state solution which enables a lasting peace. I applaud Secretary Kerry for outlining a path to peace.

“As Israel’s close friend and ally, their security is of the utmost importance. The Palestinians must condemn any violence against Israelis or incitement of violence by terrorist groups. I am a supporter of funding for Israeli defense systems, specifically, the Iron Dome, a defensive and preventive tool to stop unnecessary bloodshed in both Israel and Palestine. However, our continued friendship and support have to be mutual. Israel must also understand our concern is for their well- being and for peace in the region. That concern includes both financial support for defense programs like the iron dome, but also calling out the need to stop illegal settlements expansion that are a barrier to meaningful peace.

“I further express concern over the conditions in Gaza. While in the region, and since returning, I have been refused entry into Gaza by the Israeli government. As a Member of Congress, it is imperative that we are able to assess the political and humanitarian situation on the ground and ensure US funds are being appropriately used. I again reiterate my strong interest in visiting Gaza, through entry in Israel.

“This should not be a partisan issue. A lasting peace through a two-state solution is in the best interest of Israelis, Palestinians, the US and the entire international community. We must speak out about barriers to that process, regardless of who may be responsible for them, because that is in our shared best national interest.”

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