CONYERS URGES ACTION TO QUELL VIOLENCE IN MIDDLE EAST
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. joined Congressman John Dingell and Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick at a press conference on the crisis in the Middle East. Representing the largest Arab-American population in the country, Mr. Conyers is deeply troubled by the escalating violence in the Middle East. His statement follows:
"I am extremely concerned over the increasing deaths, injuries, destruction and suffering in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and Israel. We all agree that actions of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah that sparked the present conflict were reprehensible. We also believe there needs to be a change in America's posture of non-involvement. These two beliefs are not mutually exclusive. President Bush must intervene immediately to work with the UN and EU to begin negotiating the terms of a ceasefire that has the necessary elements to preclude another outbreak of violence. The president should show moral leadership by stepping up to this challenge. He needs to demonstrate that he is not just a 'war president,' that he can also be a president for peace.
None of us condone terrorism in any way, shape, or form, and I believe Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that was, is, and remains a threat to peace in the Mideast, and must be dismantled and disarmed. This conflict cannot be resolved militarily; only diplomacy can bring an end to the bloodshed. Without the participation of the most powerful nation in the world, there will be no resolution. In the recent past we have witnessed strong American leadership working to bring peace and stability to the region through Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It's time for George W. Bush to show the same kind of leadership as his predecessors. Once the violence has ceased, the US should immediately call on the World Bank and other international institutions to convene a donors conference to rebuild Lebanon's shattered infrastructure.
The Bush administration's Katrina-like effort to get Americans out of the war zone is disgraceful. The State Department now estimates that 5,000 Americans will be evacuated by the end of the week. That's one-fifth of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon evacuated in 9 days. At the current rate, it will take 3 or 4 more weeks to evacuate the rest of the Americans. This response is unacceptable.
There are close to 7,000 Americans from the Detroit area presently stranded in Lebanon. The vast majority of them are in the south, where the heaviest bombardment is taking place. While the US's efforts to transport people from Lebanon to Cyprus is finally starting to get underway, our constituents are still responsible for getting themselves from the villages in the south to the American embassy in Beirut so they can be evacuated. With continuous shelling and most roads destroyed, many people are stuck in their homes and villages, unable to make the trip.
The US should make immediate arrangements with the Israeli and Lebanese militaries and the UN to ensure that these Americans can be evacuated. A secure route from the south to Beirut should be arranged with the Israeli military so our citizens can get to the U.S. Embassy safely."
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
Representing Michigan's 14th District
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 226-2085 Fax