We’ve said repeatedly that the continued supply of armaments to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, including by some in the region, is a direct cause of the current hostilities. It is, therefore, incumbent upon on us in the international community to prevent the rearmament of Hamas so that a ceasefire will be durable and fully respected. There must be an international consensus that Gaza can never again be used as a launching pad against Israeli cities.
This Memorandum of Understanding that we will sign today responds to that need. It provides a series of steps that the United States and Israel will take to stem the flow of weapons and explosives into Gaza. The United States is reaching out to its partners, as well. And together, the steps that we and other members of the international community can take will contribute to a durable ceasefire.
The United States remains deeply concerned, too, about the innocent Palestinians who are suffering in Gaza. A sustainable end to hostilities, rather than one that collapses in a few days or weeks, is crucial to ending the suffering. In the meantime, we are doing all that we can to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza.
And Foreign Minister Livni and I have talked about the need to be responsive to the humanitarian organizations that are working there, including the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross, as well as nongovernmental organizations with which we are working through USAID to relieve the suffering of innocent people there.
When this is done, we must all turn again back to the goals of UN Security Council Resolution 1850. That resolution noted that lasting peace can only be based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement, and terror, and the two-state solution, building upon previous agreements and obligations. The United States remains firmly committed to Israel’s security, to continued bilateral negotiations through the Annapolis process, toward a two-state solution, which is the only way, ultimately, to secure a future for Israelis and Palestinians alike over the last term -- long term. The sooner that these hostilities can be brought to an end, the sooner the real work of forging a permanent peace can resume.
President Bush and I have very much enjoyed and valued our work with you, Tzipi, and with the people of Israel, with Prime Minister Olmert, with Defense Minister Barak, and with others. Israel and the United States will and always will – are and always will remain friends. We share values and we share a common desire to see a Middle East that lives in peace and in freedom.
Now, think about these questions and add your own:
- What concrete steps does it promise us?
- Are there any guarantees that Israel will be secure?
- What will happen to the Arabs if they gather more weapons and continue launching missiles at Israel?