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Politics - U. S. Congress
House Backs Israel Response to Terror
21 minutes ago
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By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The House on Wednesday said Israel was justified in its forceful response to Palestinian attacks and concluded that Middle East violence will stop only when Palestinian strikes cease.


A House resolution, passed 399-5, condemned attacks on Israel since President Bush (news - web sites), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas met in Jordan three weeks ago to pledge for the U.S.-developed peace plan.

But a few lawmakers warned that the measure, coming on the same day that Islamic militants agreed to halt attacks on Israel for three months, was one-sided. They said it says nothing about Israel's attempts to assassinate Islamic militants and undermines the U.S. role as a fair mediator in the peacemaking effort.

The resolution "expresses solidarity with the Israeli people as they respond to ongoing terrorist attacks" and "acknowledges Israel's fight against terrorism as part of the global war against terrorism."

It expresses sympathy to the families of innocent Israelis and Palestinians killed in the latest violence, and urged worldwide support for the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) in its attempt to confront the attacks.

"Israel has as much right to fight against suicide bombers and ruthless terrorists as any other free and democratic nation," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., sponsor of the resolution with House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

DeLay said the only question was whether Palestinian leaders "will stand with the civilized world in defiance of evil or whether they will fail like their predecessors." He brushed off Wednesday's cease-fire announcement. Murderers who take three-month vacations are still murderers," he said.

But Rep. Nick Rahall (news, bio, voting record), D-W.Va., one of only four House members of Arab-American descent, said the resolution was the wrong message to send at "this precarious time in the Middle East when we are so close to reaching an agreement."

It "unfortunately points only to the obligations of the Palestinians and insinuates they are not fulfilling those obligations. There are obligations by the Israelis as well," he said.

"This resolution takes sides," said Rep. John Dingell (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., whose Detroit-area district has one of the largest Arab-American communities in America. It does not help the United States gain standing as an honest, impartial broker, he said.

Joining Rahall and Dingell in voting against the resolution were Reps. Jerry Kleczka, D-Wis., Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. Seven others voted present.

The House on Wednesday also passed, by 412-0, a resolution expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism around the world. It urges the 55 nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (news - web sites) in Europe, including the United States, to aggressively prosecute anti-Semitic actions and increase education to eradicate anti-Semitic attitudes.


On the Net:

Information on the Israel resolution, H.Res. 294, can be found at

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