Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Press Release: Congressman Ellisons Floor Statement on Gaza Conflict House Resolution

Jan 8, 2009
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) made the following statement on the floor of the House of Representatives today regarding his vote on House Resolution 34, a bill expressing the sense of Congress about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Congressman Ellison joined 22 of his colleagues and voted “Present” on the resolution.

Madame Speaker, I come to the floor today torn about this resolution.

Though I welcome resolutions by Congress to express support for the people of Israel and Gaza at this difficult time, this resolution does little to move toward a stable and durable peace in the Middle East.

I cannot vote against this resolution because I believe every country in the world has the right to defend itself.

I have been to Sderot and I have seen first-hand both the physical and emotional destruction caused by the rocket attacks launched by Hamas.

Israeli citizens living near the Gaza border have been repeatedly harassed and live daily in fear. Hamas, a terrorist organization founded with the goal of destroying Israel, has launched more than 6,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2005.

Last fall I voted for a resolution specifically condemning these rocket attacks into Israel.At the same time I cannot vote for this resolution because it barely mentions the human suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.

Over 750 people have been killed, including 250 children and 50 women, with over 3,000 people injured.

And even before the recent Israeli military operation, life for the people of Gaza had become increasingly unliveable -- with shortages of food, fuel and basic medical supplies.

The 1.4 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip existed in a state of dreadful isolation, cut off from the world, often including the world's media.

Earlier this year the people of Gaza broke through the walls separating Gaza and Egypt simply to purchase groceries.

We need to have compassion for the people of Gaza and the tremendous human suffering there.That is why I will vote “present” on this resolution concerning the current conflict in Gaza.

History has shown that ground troops and air strikes have not resolved conflict in the Middle East. If we try to resolve conflict with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before.

Diplomacy is necessary to save lives and yield a lasting peace with security.

The United States government, together with international partners, must play an active role in pursuing real peace with security in the Middle East.


The text of the resolution is available at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:hr34ih.txt.pdf

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