No Blank Check in the Mideast

It was with unwavering support for Israel, its safety, security and right to exist, that I voted today against House Resolution 921. Hezbollah started this conflict with an ambush, and Israel has every right to defend itself. Of that, there is no doubt. Nor is there any doubt anywhere in the world about America's deep and abiding commitment to Israel.

A resolution in the House of Representatives will not change what the world already knows, but it might encourage what the world already fears: a wider war with greater casualties, undermining fragile but crucial support for Israel among Arab nations, and further endangering Israel and other innocent civilians across the region.

I am especially troubled by the fact that H.Res 921 goes far beyond reaffirming our unwavering commitment to Israel by declaring unlimited support for potential military action anywhere in the region. The resolution says we: "support Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it." (emphasis added)

This raises the ominous prospect that the House has given the Administration a pre-recorded vote to support any action, at any time. Could that include a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities? The resolution is a blank check, and we know that policy has failed in Iraq, and has only incubated further violence and terrorism.

No one can for one moment accept rockets in Haifa, Nazareth, or anywhere in Israel. But demanding that the Lebanese government rein in Hezbollah while bombs rain down on a variety of targets, some civilian, is not the answer.

Widening the war will inflame tensions, increase casualties and decrease any prospect for a permanent peace. The United States can best support Israel and the Arab world by vigorously pursuing an end to the violence, the resumption of a peace process and a commitment to unite the region to isolate terrorist groups and all who oppose a just and lasting peace for all people.