Congress to the Rescue

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WASHINGTON—While strongly supporting Israel, the Congress has decided to sit out the current war in Lebanon. The closest it came to getting involved occurred late last week in a pretty feeble debate over Lebanon, with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israeli lobby, trying to broker a “bipartisan” resolution on the conflict.

When the Republican majority leader in the House John Boehner approached Nancy Pelosi on the floor and tried to get her to sign on to a joint resolution supporting Israel, she balked, wanting it to include a phrase asking both sides to limit civilian casualties, reports the Hill. When the Republicans refused to add such language, Pelosi said she would back the resolution, but not actually sign it. So, Boehner made an end run around her — co-sponsoring the resolution, which backs Israel and commends Bush for “fully supp orting Israel as it responds to these armed attacks by terrorist organizations and their state sponsors,” with Henry Hyde, chair of the International Relations committee and Tom Lantos, the California Democrat and Holocaust survivor who is the ranking minority member.
Republicans pointed out to members who wanted to add softening language, which discouraged the killing of civilians, that doing so would add legitimacy to both Hamas and Hazbollah, placing them in the same category as sovereign Israel.

Meanwhile a handful of Lebanese-American members, led by Darrell Issa of California, made a futile gesture, asking all parties to protect human life. On Monday, Congressman Nick Rahall, a Lebanese American Democrat from West Virginia, called for an immediate cease-fire. It failed.

Dennis Kucinich of Ohio also spoke out strongly against the fighting. He introduced a resolution with 23 backers including New York’s Louise Slaughter and John Conyers from Michigan, calling on the President “to appeal to all sides in the current crisis in the Middle East for an immediate cessation of violence and to commit United States diplomats to multi-party negotiations with no preconditions.”

Kucinich wants Bush to send a “high-level diplomatic mission to the region to facilitate such multi-party negotiations.” He urges “multi-party negotiations to begin as soon as possible, including delegations from the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt; and supports an international peacekeeping mission to southern Lebanon to prevent cross-border skirmishes during such multi-party negotiations.”

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