[July 28, 2006]
The current situation in the Middle East is one with which all of us should be deeply concerned. I sympathize very much with the suffering that innocent civilians are experiencing in that troubled region. Each day we watch with sadness and dismay the images of the personal suffering experienced by these civilians on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanon border.
It is, however, extremely important that we recognize the root cause of the current crisis in Lebanon. The people of Israel have had to endure seemingly endless threats from terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and clearly the previous situation as it existed could no longer be tolerated.
The repeated attacks across Israel’s northern border resulted in continual instability in the region not to mention ongoing casualties that no nation can be expected to endure.
Many have noted that recent developments were precipitated by the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier several weeks ago. While this was most certainly a serious and deplorable action it must also be recognized that the ongoing acts of violence perpetrated by Hezbollah clearly placed the Government of Israel in an untenable position in respect of its duty to protect its citizens.
Any real and enduring peace in the Middle East requires the recognition of Israel’s legitimate rights as a sovereign state, not the least among these rights being the right to the security and safety of its citizens. As long as Hezbollah is permitted to continue to create insecurity, take lives and inflict damage along Israel’s northern frontier there can be no lasting peace.
It is also essential that all nations in the region realize that in supporting organizations like Hezbollah they are in effect ensuring instability, insecurity and persistent conflict throughout the Middle East.
I encourage all sides to realize that any lasting and enduring peace in the Middle East requires the recognition of Israel’s rights as a sovereign nation including its non-negotiable right to security.
It is my hope that this current situation can be resolved expeditiously, that an effective international force can take up position in the region and that a lasting and enduring peace will be achieved in the Middle East.