BACKGROUND: On July 14, the House of Representatives debated House Resolution 713, which deplores the International Court of Justice advisory opinion finding that the Wall Israel is building in the West Bank is illegal.
The next day, the House voted for the resolution 361 yeas, 45 nays, 13 presents, 14 not voting. Although the resolution passed, a significant number of Members of Congress refused to endorse this knee-jerk resolution rushed to the floor by the supporters of Israelís military occupation. Many Members of Congress took the courageous stand of supporting human rights and international law and refused to condemn the International Court of Justice for upholding these standards in regards to Israelís Wall.
The ICJ opinion stands as a powerful vindication of the US Campaignís approach to advocating for a just peace based on human rights and international law and provides us with a powerful tool to strengthen our efforts. The ICJ ruling can be read at: http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idecisions.htm
Itís becoming clear that growing constituent pressure is causing many Members of Congress to rethink their support for Israelís military occupation. Keep up the great work! Weíre on our way to changing US policy toward Israel and Palestine to support peace, justice, human rights and international law.
ACTION REQUESTED: Thank Members of Congress who made strong statements against this resolution on the floor and who either voted nay or present on the resolution.
Get your organization to endorse a petition thanking Members of Congress who voted against or abstained on House Resolution 713. To read and sign the petition, please visit: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/petition.php?pid=3
*Thank the Member of Congress for speaking against, voting against, or voting present on House Resolution 713.
* I support human rights and international law as a framework for our nationís foreign policy. House Resolution 713 undermines US respect for human rights, international law and international institutions by deploring an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and questioning the courtís jurisdiction.
* The International Court of Justice ruled that the sections of the Wall that Israel is building in the West Bank (virtually the entire structure) are illegal and must be dismantled. The court also ruled that Israel must pay compensation to Palestinians harmed by the Wall.
* The International Court of Justice ruled that no country can provide aid or assistance to Israel in maintaining the situation created by the Wall. I urge Congress to comply with the courtís decision and halt all US aid to Israel that allows it to build and maintain its illegal Wall in the West Bank.
Members of Congress who spoke against the resolution:
Lois Capps (D-CA): 202-225-3601
Jim McDermott (D-WA): 202-225-3106
David Obey (D-WI): 202-225-3365
The full statements of Rep. Capps, McDermott, and Obey are reprinted below.
Members of Congress who voted nay:
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI): 202-225-2726
Brian Baird (D-WA): 202-225-3536
Xavier Becerra (D-CA): 202-225-6235
Lois Capps (D-CA): 202-225-3601
William Lacy Clay (D-MO): 202-225-2406
John Conyers (D-MI): 202-225-5126
Danny Davis (D-IL): 202-225-5006
Diana DeGette (D-CO): 202-225-4431
John Dingell (D-MI): 202-225-4071
Sam Farr (D-CA): 202-225-2861
Chaka Fattah (D-PA): 202-225-4001
Bob Filner (D-CA): 202-225-8045
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ): 202-225-2435
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY): 202-225-6335
Jay Inslee (D-WA): 202-225-6311
Darrell Issa (R-CA): 202-225-3906
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL): 202-225-0773
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA): 202-225-6511
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH): 202-225-4146
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI): 202-225-2261
Gerald Kleczka (D-WI): 202-225-4572
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): 202-225-5871
Ray LaHood (R-IL): 202-225-6201
Barbara Lee (D-CA): 202-225-2661
John Lewis (D-GA): 202-225-3801
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA): 202-225-3072
Jim McDermott (D-WA): 202-225-3106
George Miller (D-CA): 202-225-2095
Allan Mollohan (D-WV): 202-225-4172
Jim Moran (D-VA): 202-225-4376
David Obey (D-WI): 202-225-3365
Ed Pastor (D-AZ): 202-225-4065
Ron Paul (R-TX): 202-225-2831
Donald Payne (D-NJ): 202-225-3436
David Price (D-NC): 202-225-1784
Nick Rahall (D-WV): 202-225-3452
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): 202-225-2415
Bobby Rush (D-IL): 202-225-4372
Timothy Ryan (D-OH): 202-225-5261
Bernard Sanders (I-VT): 202-225-4115
Hilda Solis (D-CA): 202-225-5464
Pete Stark (D-CA): 202-225-5065
Maxine Waters (D-CA): 202-225-2201
Mel Watt (D-NC): 202-225-1510
Al Wynn (D-MD): 202-225-8699
Members of Congress who voted present:
Doug Bereuter (R-NE): 202-225-4806
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): 202-225-4811
Michael Capuano (D-MA): 202-225-5111
Ed Case (D-HI): 202-225-4906
Randy Cunningham (R-CA): 202-225-5452
Peter DeFazio (D-OR): 202-225-6416
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX): 202-225-4865
Rush Holt (D-NJ): 202-225-5801
William Jefferson (D-LA): 202-225-6636
Jim Leach (R-IA): 202-225-6576
Thomas Petri (R-WI): 202-225-2476
Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN): 202-225-4755
Nydia Velasquez (D-NY): 202-225-2361
STATEMENTS AGAINST RESOLUTION:
Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express very serious concerns about the resolution before the House. I state these reservations as a strong friend and supporter of Israel. I speak as someone who condemns terrorism, especially the horrific practice of suicide bombing, with every fiber of my being, and I speak as someone who supports Israel's right to build a security fence along the Green Line.
But, sadly, as the House once again attempts to demonstrate its full support of Israel, we will pass an unbalanced, unwise resolution that may undermine the interests of Israelis and Palestinians as well as our own national interests.
I believe this resolution needs some changes. For example, it appropriately references the 1,000 people, mostly Israelis, who have been killed since September, 2000. But what about the 3,000 innocent Palestinians who have also lost their lives? Just once can the United States Congress not admit that Palestinians are people, too, and their lives are also precious? Would not such a compassionate statement go a long way towards restoring our credibility in the Arab world at a time when our national interests demand our image be improved? And would not such a statement be the right thing to say?
This resolution mentions the roadmap as the best path for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet in the very next clause we undermine the roadmap by listing only the Palestinian obligations. Of course, the Palestinians must crack down on terrorism. But the roadmap also requires Israel to impose a settlement freeze, tear down illegal outposts, ease the conditions of occupation. Why does this resolution only tell half the story?
As for the security barrier itself, I have personally witnessed the very severe hardships it imposes on Palestinian life. Again, a fence on the Green Line is one thing. That makes sense strategically and demographically. But a separation barrier that winds its way through the West Bank, appropriating Palestinian land in its wake, is not acceptable.
In the village of Jayyous, I saw how the wall separates farmers from their groves, and their crops are rotting on the field; teachers and students separated from their schools; even a Palestinian policeman unable to get to his job imposing security.
The resolution before us has a grudging reference to the recent decision by the High Court of Justice. But I think it is important for the American people to hear the Court's argument in more detail. The Israeli High Court ruled that the route of the barrier must be altered to ease the hardship of 35,000 Palestinians living adjacent to it. The current path, they argued, ``would generally burden the entire way of life in the petitioners' villages.'' The Court carefully balanced security and humanitarian considerations. The justices concluded, ``We are convinced that there is no security without law. Upholding the law is a component of national security.''
Of course, it can be argued that the security barrier has prevented terror attacks. But the only way to stop terrorism and secure the safety of Israel in the long term is for a comprehensive political solution to be negotiated with the Palestinians. After all, there was almost no terrorism perpetrated against Israeli civilians during the 3-year period of 1997 to 2000. There was not a separation barrier then but a vibrant peace process, negotiations and security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, with powerful leadership from the United States.
If Congress really wanted to be helpful, we would not pass resolutions on such divisive issues as a security wall, but we would urge our administration to act forcefully to bring both sides back to the negotiating table. America's failures to engage in Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not only doom these long-suffering peoples to continued violence and misery but harm vital U.S. national interests as well. And that is a risk that we can surely not afford to take.
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, there is no such thing as a one-sided story. From the first day I came to the House of Representatives in 1989, and until my last day in this Chamber, I have been and will continue to be a staunch defender of Israel.
I wholeheartedly and unequivocally believe in Israel's right to exist, and the fundamental human right for the Jewish people to live in peace and without fear.
Hundreds of times in this House, I have backed my words with deeds on behalf of Israel: Recognizing the founding of Israel; commending the people of Israel for conducting free and fair elections; condemning terrorism against Israel; approving funds for Israel's security; embracing efforts to achieve peace; promoting Israel's economic growth and development around the world; ensuring Israel has access to stable oil supplies; demanding real counterterrorism efforts by other Mideast nations; and, most importantly, promoting peace in our time, for all time.
Let no one say, let no one think, that JIM MCDERMOTT is not a friend of Israel. I am a true friend of Israel and that is why I offer these remarks. A true friend tells the truth as he sees it, because that's what is in the best interest of your friend.
The House has before it a resolution neither requested by the Government of Israel nor by the people of Israel.
It is a resolution that will not promote peace, or dialog, in the region. It is a resolution that risks undermining the already painfully difficult process--and the hope--of achieving peace.
There are times when the House of Representatives can advance the cause for peace, or stir the world on a matter that knows no geographic border. HIV/AIDS is such a matter. This is not one of those times.
The Bible says there is a time for every thing under heaven. We can hope this is the time for peace. We can work to make this the time for peace.
We can hurt the cause for peace by passing a resolution that would seem to place the world on one side, and Israel and the United States on the other. A political wall divides just as much as a stonewall or an iron fence.
In light of a ruling by the World Court, Israel can change the path of the wall it is building. The issues involved are complex, from land to water, from borders to principles.
The legal issues involved are inseparable from the emotionally charged, and unresolved, debate over homeland, security, peace, and the future of a Palestinian State.
Although delicate and fragile, there is at least a process underway to try to resolve the issues the wall raises. The resolution in the House today could endanger the process. That's not a risk worth taking for the purpose of recording an opinion that no one asked for.
The world knows full well the United States considers Israel a close and important ally.
I believe we support Israel best by keeping the focus on the process that someday soon could tear down all the walls that separate Israel and Palestine.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, today the House will vote on a resolution condemning the International Court of Justice for rendering an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of the ``Israeli Wall,'' and condemning the U.N. General Assembly for requesting such an opinion.
This legislation was only introduced last night--and strikes me as the type of knee-jerk posturing that does more harm than good. I oppose the bill for the following reasons:
The ICJ rendered an advisory opinion on the legal consequences on the construction of the wall on its current route, an opinion requested by the U.N. General Assembly. The ICJ did so as it has done in the past, and the General Assembly was within its rights to request such an opinion.
Condemning the General Assembly for asking for an opinion, or the ICJ for analyzing the situation and making a nonbinding statement of opinion on the matter is essentially condemning people for asking questions or having an opinion--key elements in civilized discourse or democracy.
The sponsors of this bill, well-intentioned as they are, claim that the advisory opinion denies that Israel has a right to self-defense. This is not so--paragraph 141 states ``The fact remains that Israel has to face numerous and indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence against its civilian population. It has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens.''
The resolution is factually incorrect:
It claims the General Assembly asked for an opinion on the legality of the barrier. They did not. They asked for an opinion on the legal consequences construction of the barrier.
It says that a similar security barrier exists around Gaza. The barrier around Gaza is on the armistice line, not beyond it, does not isolate Palestinian villages, or envelop settlements on territory described by the Israeli Supreme Court as being held ``in belligerent occupation,'' and therefore is not similar.
The resolution is hypocritical--it calls on members of the international community to ``reflect soberly'' on a number of matters--although this body held no hearings on this resolution, and has not even had 24 hours to review it. I would hazard a guess that fewer than 2 percent of the Members of this body, or their staffs have actually read the opinion in question, much less reflected soberly on it.
The resolution is needlessly belligerent--it threatens that anyone who seriously considers the ICJ ruling to raise questions about the resolution of this issue ``Risk[s] a strongly negative impact on their relationship with the people and government of the United States.'' At this time, we need to be working with our colleagues in the international community to find a solution, listening to what they have to say, rather than threatening them.
The opinion states that construction of the barrier inside Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal under international law. I'm not a lawyer--but I know that if I build my fence on your property, I've got to take it down.
The resolution notes that the Israeli courts themselves have been critical of the barrier, and have directed that changes be made to the wall's route. While this is true, it does not mean that other states concerned with the stability of the region, should not have the benefit of an advisory opinion on the legal ramifications of the wall by an outside party.
Interesting points from that Israeli Supreme Court case (which only covered one portion of the fence):
86. Our task is difficult. We are members of Israeli society. Although we are sometimes in an ivory tower, that tower is in the heart of Jerusalem, which is not infrequently struck by ruthless terror. We are aware of the killing and destruction wrought by terror against the state and its citizens. As any other Israelis, we too recognize the need to defend the country and its citizens against the wounds inflicted by terror. We are aware that in the short term, this judgment will not make the state's struggle against those rising up against it easier. But we are judges. When we sit in judgment, we are subject to judgment. We act according to our best conscience and understanding. Regarding the state's struggle against the terror that rises up against it, we are convinced that at the end of the day, a struggle according to the law will strengthen her power and her spirit. There is no security without law. Satisfying the provisions of the law is an aspect of national security. I discussed this point in HCJ 5100/94 The Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. The Government of Israel, at 845:
``We are aware that this decision does make it easier to deal with that reality. This is the destiny of a democracy--she does not see all means as acceptable, and the ways of her enemies are not always open before her. A democracy must sometimes fight with one arm tied behind her back. Even so, a democracy has the upper hand. The rule of law and individual liberties constitute an important aspect of her security stance. At the end of the day, they strengthen her spirit and this strength allows her to overcome her difficulties.
``That goes for this case as well. Only a Separation Fence built on a base of law will grant security to the state and its citizens. Only a separation route based on the path of law will lead the state to the security so yearned for.
A nonbinding opinion is just that. Disagree with it all you want--pick it apart, show how it is wrong. But to condemn people for voicing an opinion is undemocratic and should be beneath this body.