Across the Middle East, the United States and Israel are facing a range of
crucial security challenges. We are not secure while Saudi donors fund
terror, while Iran pursues a nuclear weapons programs and while Syria
sponsors terrorist operations. We are not secure while Iraq is at risk of
becoming a haven for terrorists. And we are not secure while Israel, the
one true democracy in the region, remains the victim of an unrelenting
campaign of terror. If we continue without a more effective strategy, we
are not supporting our ally as best we can.
For too long, America has not led, and Iran's program has advanced. Let me
say it plainly: a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. I believe we must
work with our allies to end Iran's nuclear weapons program and be ready to
work with them to implement a range of tougher measures, if needed.
Developing an international coalition enhances our influence by ensuring
that all nations are united in the effort, leaving no room for Iran to play
allies against one another.
The Syria Accountability Act, which I co-sponsored in the Senate, gave the
president authority to sanction Syria, a concrete step against Syria's
support for terror and its occupation of Lebanon. As president, I will
never delay implementing sanctions as the Bush administration did for many
The greatest long-term strategic threat to U.S.-Israeli relations is U.S.
dependence on Mideast oil. A new national security policy demands an end to
that dependence. For too long, America has lost its voice when talking
about the policies and practices of some governments in the Persian Gulf.
If we are serious about energy independence, then we can finally be serious
about confronting the role of Saudi Arabia in financing and providing
ideological backing for Islamic fundamentalist jihadists. This is a problem
that this administration has ignored - and one that must be addressed..
I have a plan for energy independence from Mideast oil in the next 10
years. I will invest in the research and exploration needed to develop
renewable energy sources. I will take the lead in developing the new
technology and production methods needed to ensure that resources such as
coal and natural gas are used more efficiently and cleanly, and fully
integrated into the new energy economy. I want an America that relies on
its own ingenuity and innovation and not the Saudi royal family...
I believe, in addition, that the withdrawal from Gaza, which Prime Minister
Sharon announced in April, holds great promise. Indeed, this step enjoys
overwhelming support among Israelis. It must receive our support and
backing as well.
The success of the withdrawal also requires a real Palestinian effort to
establish security - to ensure Gaza does not remain a haven for terrorists
to launch attacks on Israel. Experience has made very clear that for the
Palestinians to meet this key test, new Palestinian leadership is required,
as Yasser Arafat has proven himself not to be a partner for peace.
As president, I will work with the Palestinian community to empower new,
responsible Palestinian leadership committed to a permanent end to terror
and the promotion of democracy. I will ensure that allies are united in
this effort, not working at cross-purposes by propping up a failed
Palestinian power structure. This kind of tough and frank diplomacy will be
a hallmark of my administration. We will magnify our power and restore
American influence to enhance our own security and that of our allies. We
will restore our alliances and we will lead. But we will never compromise
America's special relationship with our ally Israel. As president, I will
never pressure Israel to make concessions that will compromise its security.
My commitment to a safe and secure Jewish state is unwavering. For 19
years, this is a pledge I have kept in the United States Senate - whether
through my votes on economic aid, military security or the location of the
U.S. Embassy. And it is one I will continue to keep as I lead a bold new
effort to enhance regional security throughout the Middle East.
John Kerry is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States