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Piercing the fog on Turtle Bay

The United Nations Security Council has gone into Twilight Zone mode in an emergency session devoted to events in Hamastan. United States Ambassador John Bolton made the following statement at the emergency session:

We are all aware of the seriousness of the situation that is unfolding in the Middle East. Let me state that our first and foremost goal here in the Security Council should be to avoid taking any steps that would unexpectedly exacerbate tensions in the region. To that end, we feel we should tread cautiously before issuing any remarks, much less a formal statement given the complexity of the situation. We should not undermine the limited credibility of the Council by engaging in debate and rhetoric merely for their own sake. Such exercises undermine the United Nations generally and provide evidence for those who say it is all talk and no action.

The United States calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli Defense Force Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas. This is the best way to achieve our shared goal of a peaceful resolution to the immediate crisis. Terrorism of any kind, which this is clearly constitutes, is intolerable and the international community must stand united in opposing it. The attack and hostage-taking by Hamas last week precipitated this crisis, and their refusal to release their hostage continues to place innocent Palestinians in harm’s way. We further condemn the brutal murder of eighteen year-old Israeli citizen Eliyahu Asheri, and our condolences go out to his family.

Upon the safe and unconditional release of Corporal Shalit, we are hopeful that the parties in the region can continue discussions about the best way forward to establish a lasting peace. The United States is of the firm view that a prerequisite for ending this conflict is that the governments of Syria and Iran end their role as state sponsors of terror and unequivocally condemn the actions of Hamas, including this kidnapping.

As we urge for calm in the region, let us remain cognizant of the fact that we would not be where we are right now if it were not for Syria’s support and harboring of terrorists. We call upon President Assad to lend his support to international efforts to resolve the situation. An important first step in that regard would be for Syria to arrest Khaled Meshal, a known international terrorist and member of Hamas and to close down the various terrorist headquarters in Damascus. In addition, we call upon Syria to stop financing the terrorists and cooperating with other states, such as Iran, which finance terrorists. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority government to stop all acts of violence and terror and comply with the principles enunciated by the Quartet: renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept previous obligations and agreements, including the Roadmap.

We call upon the current leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to fully support and implement these principles set forth by the Quartet. An immediate first step in that regard would be for Hamas to secure the safe and unconditional release of Corporal Shalit. The G-8 noted yesterday its concern about the detention of elected members of the Palestinian Authority and legislature. We call on all parties to avoid actions that can escalate this situation or harm innocent civilians, while acknowledging Israel’s unequivocal right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens. During this period of crisis, we urge close attention to the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza, and action to ensure that those needs are met expeditiously.

This seems to me a lucid and straightforward assessment of responsibility for the events in issue.

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