December 5, 2007
Verbatim, as delivered
Opening Remarks of
Chairman Lantos at hearing, ``After
After all the
Secretary of State Rice deserves commendation for this notable feat, and for thus far surpassing the peace-process expectations of even her strongest supporters. But there remains a long, long way to go.
As this process moves forward – and hopefully that is the direction it will go -- all of us need to be realistic.
It is more important to get the agreement right than to get it fast. There should be no pressure for firm but artificial timetables, and I commend the Administration for not giving in to pressure to establish inflexible benchmarks.
It is also critical that the parties engage directly. The only viable agreement will be one the parties will have achieved themselves, not one forced upon them by outsiders.
It is clear that Olmert and Abbas have personal chemistry and confidence in one another to a degree unprecedented between any two Israeli and Palestinian leaders. But to maximize mutual confidence between Israeli and Palestinian societies, it is important that the parties refrain from incitement; this is a key requirement of the first phase of the Roadmap.
In that regard, I am profoundly disturbed by two post-Annapolis incidents involving the Palestinians. One involved a map, displayed on Palestinian Authority TV just one day after
The other involved an anachronistic “Palestinian Solidarity Day” ceremony held annually at the United Nations. At this year’s ceremony, just two days after
Most important, we should all remember that achieving a peace agreement on paper – exceedingly difficult though it will be – is, in fact, the easy part. The far harder part will be implementing it on the ground. And by far the biggest challenge of all is for the Palestinians to put an end to terrorism and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, in
If there is to be peace, the parties will need the active support of their Arab neighbors. We expect the Arab world to support President Abbas’ government generously, both financially and politically; to resume and to enhance a normalization process with the state of
Both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas deserve to be commended for their commitment and courage in the face of domestic constraints. Both have a chance to be remembered as great and serious statesmen.
As they start formal negotiations next week, these two leaders should know that we stand firmly behind them, ready to assist in any way possible. At the same time, it is states throughout the Middle East that have the greatest stake in their success, and we expect them – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others – to support both parties in a manner consonant with the priority they claim to place on peace.
Lastly, I would urge our Administration to keep its eyes on the Israeli-Palestinian prize. Putin’s authoritarian