Kucinich Criticizes Israel; Wants U.N. Probe
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is calling for a United Nations investigation into Israel’s attacks on Gaza, criticizing Israel for a disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks.
The criticism stands in stark contrast to the statements of other Democrats, who have offered near-unanimous support for Israel amid the latest violence in the Middle East.
Kucinich likened the Israeli attacks on Gaza to its war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006. In both cases, he said, civilian populations were attacked and “countless innocents” were killed or injured.
“All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable.”
Pelosi and other Democrats have refrained from criticizing Israel’s government, which has responded to the Hamas attacks with a rocket assault on Gaza.
“Peace between Israelis and Palestinians cannot result from daily barrages of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza,” Pelosi said in a statement posted on the Speaker’s website on Monday.
“Hamas and its supporters must understand that Gaza cannot and will not be allowed to be a sanctuary for attacks on Israel.
Reid said he “strongly” supported Israel’s right to defend its citizens from the Hamas rocket attacks and to restore its security. He also blamed Hamas for any humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas’s failure to stop these attacks only exacerbates the humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region.”
In March, the House voted 404-1 for a resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for rocket attacks on Israel. It also condemned the use of Palestinians as human shields. Hamas has been criticized repeatedly for shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas in Gaza, which leads to the deaths of civilians when Israel counterattacks.
The only member of Congress to vote against the resolution was Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), a Republican candidate for president in 2008. Four Democrats, Reps. Jim Moran (Va.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Michael Capuano (Mass.) and Jim McDermott (Wash.), voted present. Kucinich was not present for the vote.
Kucinich said the perpetrators of attacks against Israel should be brought to justice, but that Israel “cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible.”
Pelosi said the U.S. must continue to do everything it can to promote peace in the region and a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. She said humanitarian needs of all innocent civilians must be addressed, but added that when Israel is attacked, “the United States must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic ally.”
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Israel had a “duty” to defend itself in response to the attacks. “The loss of innocent life is a terrible tragedy, and the blame for that tragedy lies with Hamas.”
Similarly, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) laid blame with Hamas.
“Hamas is abusing the people of Gaza by using their homes as a base for terror operations,” he said. “The world should no longer tolerate a terrorist government in the Gaza Strip.”
President-elect Obama has yet to weigh in on the violence, although top adviser David Axelrod on Sunday noted statements Obama made over the summer that respected Israel’s right to defend itself.
Kucinich said in his statement that he had sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting an independent inquiry. He said the attacks on civilians represented collective punishment, which he said was a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.