Kudos to the gentleman from Indiana, the notoriously affable Mike Pence who represents Indiana’s 9th for showing conviction in taking on Foggy Bottom yesterday.
During Dr. Rice’s appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pence (who declared himself an “unapologetic champion” of Israel) demanded clarification on media reports that the upcoming Annapolis summit was to end with establishment of a Palestinian state. Wouldn’t it be better, he asked, if we first ensured a “secure, stable and permanent” Israel and only then tried creating a Palestinian one? Shouldn’t the objective be a cessation of violence, a recognition by all sides of the other’s right to exist.
The Secretary agreed any Palestinian state would need to be terror free – her terminology was not “born of terror” and that it ought be able to deliver security and democratic governance to its people (and presumably to Israel and the region). She reasoned a terror free Palestine would increase Israel’s security, and relied on former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s talk of painful compromise. The concept, which came from Sharon’s Hertzeliya speech where he outlined the Gaza Disengagement plan, may be out of date. Gaza was an experiment – an Israeli pullout would give the Palestinians a chance to prove readiness for terror free statesmanship.
But Gaza hasn’t worked at all; instead Israel’s citizens endure ceaseless rocket barrages on Sderot and its environs. Hamas, still sworn to Israel’s destruction, now governs Gaza and acts as an Iranian proxy on Israel’s doorstep. A terror free Palestine might do what the Secretary suggests, but there is no evidence that we are going to see one. The Congressman’s question and his demand, stand.
See the entire exchange between Mr. Pence and Madam Secretary here – well worth it.