We must also persuade other nations such as Saudi Arabia to recognize common interests with Israel in dealing with Iran.
We should stress to the Egyptians that they help the Iranians and do themselves no favors by failing to adequately prevent the smuggling of weapons and cash by Iran into Gaza. The United States’ leverage is strengthened when we have many nations with us.
Economic Sanctions on Iran?
It puts us in a place where sanctions could actually have a profound impact on Iran’s economy. Iran is highly dependent on imports and foreign investment, credit and technology. And an environment where our allies see that these types of investments in Iran are not in the world’s best interests, could help bring Iran to the table.
We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. They know that President Ahamadinejad is reckless, irresponsible, and inattentive to their day-to-day needs which is why they sent him a rebuke at the ballot box this fall.
And we hope more of them will speak out. There is great hope in their ability to see his hatred for what it is: hatred and a threat to peace in the region.
At the same time, we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs.
This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza.
Israel Must Freely Defend Itself When Attacked
And when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself.
Last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel. By using Lebanon as an outpost for terrorism, and innocent people as shields, Hezbollah has also engulfed that entire nation in violence and conflict, and threatened the fledgling movement for democracy there.
That’s why we have to press for enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which demands the cessation of arms shipments to Hezbollah, a resolution which Syria and Iran continue to disregard. Their support and shipment of weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which threatens the peace and security in the region, must end.
True Allies Do Not Walk Away
These are great challenges that we face. And in moments like these, true allies do not walk away. For six years, the administration has missed opportunities to increase the United States’ influence in the region and help Israel achieve the peace she wants and the security she needs. The time has come for us to seize those opportunities.
The Israeli people, and Prime Minister Olmert, have made clear that they are more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security.
But the Israelis must trust that they have a true Palestinian partner for peace.
That is why we must strengthen the hands of Palestinian moderates who seek peace and that is why we must maintain the isolation of Hamas and other extremists who are committed to Israel’s destruction.
Three Conditions for Hamas
The U.S. and our partners have put before Hamas three very simple conditions to end this isolation: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce the use of violence; and abide by past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
We should all be concerned about the agreement negotiated among Palestinians in Mecca last month. The reports of this agreement suggest that Hamas, Fatah, and independent ministers would sit in a government together, under a Hamas Prime Minister, without any recognition of Israel, without a renunciation of violence, and with only an ambiguous promise to “respect” previous agreements.
This should concern us all because it suggests that Mahmoud Abbas, who is a Palestinian leader I believe is committed to peace, felt forced to compromise with Hamas. However, if we are serious about the Quartet’s conditions, we must tell the Palestinians this is not good enough.