Regrets Other Candidates 'Gotcha Politics' on Sensitive Middle East Policy

Manchester, NH, September 12, 2003

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the historic moment when President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin and Chairman Yassir Arafat stood together on the South Lawn of the White House and signed the Oslo Accords. It was a moment of hope and a moment of peace. It is a moment that I hope still brings to all of us a sense of regret for what might have been. Instead of peace, today we have war. Instead of economic growth, we have terror. Instead of a new generation of young people engaged as partners for peace, we have a new generation of terrorists and a new generation of victims.
Particularly in these days of enormous tension and spiralling violence, I see no room in American politics for political gamesmanship when it comes to the Middle East.

Of course, Hamas is a terrorist organization, and it must be defeated and its members defeated for seeking to thwart peace and to kill innocent men, women and children. To suggest that I might feel otherwise is shameful and should be beneath the dignity of any campaign.

In the past few days, I have made clear that I intend to replant the seeds of peace that were sown on the White House lawn ten years ago tomorrow. I will dedicate myself from day one of my administration to the search for peace. I have made clear that it is the special relationship the United States enjoys with Israel that makes us the only party in the world with the potential to help end this centuries-old conflict. I view it as not only a duty but an honor to make sure that this time these seeds take hold.

Instead of engaging in petty political gamesmanship, I call on Senators Lieberman and Kerry to lay out exactly how - if they do not wish to play the role of honest broker at the negotiating table - they could ever carry on the legacy of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin as peacemakers and to explain what they would do to recreate the hope and the promise of the peace process of ten years ago.

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