Virginia's Eric Cantor, who represents the 7th Congressional District and is Majority Leader of the U.S. Congress, wrote Friday at CNN, How To Prevent The Next Clash With Hamas
. In it, he noted that all hope the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas will hold and went on to say:
However, we must recognize that Hamas and its terrorist partners bear responsibility for instigating the latest round of this conflict and need to refrain from further rocket and terrorist attacks. Israel exercised its inherent right to self-defense only after weeks of unprovoked attacks against civilian targets. Having picked a fight like a playground bully, Hamas cannot now credibly claim to be a victim.
Israel, like the United States, places a premium on avoiding collateral damage and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sophisticated weaponry to minimize to the greatest extent possible civilian casualties.
Hamas intentionally launches unguided rockets into densely populated areas to cause wanton destruction and kill as many innocents as possible. Hamas exploits their own citizens as human shields, locating rocket stockpiles in population centers, hopeful that images of dead Palestinians will rally the world to their extremist cause.
It is important to understand how this conflict started and how responsibly Israel has behaved, but also how future conflicts with Hamas can be prevented.
Israel has made tremendous progress in reducing Hamas' capacity to threaten Israel and in restoring its deterrence. Israel's military operations in Gaza have been informed by impressively accurate intelligence and have been conducted with great precision and success. Significant stocks of long-range rockets have been destroyed, although remaining weapons stockpiles -- located in densely populated areas -- may require risky ground operations to secure should Hamas resume firing at Israel.
To make the cease-fire hold, Congressman Cantor went on to say:
For any enduring cease-fire, the onus must be on Hamas to control its fighters, cease rocket attacks, abandon terrorism and accept Israel's right to exist -- conditions it has long refused to accept despite Israel's commitment to a two-state solution and persistent willingness to negotiate with its Palestinian neighbors.
Israel's Arab neighbors have an important role to play. Egypt deserves credit for its efforts to craft a cease-fire, but initial inflammatory public statements and actions of its leaders unfortunately served mainly to legitimize Hamas.
If Egypt is serious about playing a positive role in the region, it will redouble its efforts to combat terrorist activities in the Sinai, police its border with Gaza, and prevent Iran and others from resupplying Hamas with rockets and other weapons. If Hamas rearms, it will be only a matter of time before the cease-fire breaks down.
Despite President Obama's friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, his recent behavior has been incredibly disappointing. Erdogan, not for the first time, this week referred to Israel as a 'terrorist state' and has solely blamed Israel for the conflict, despite Hamas' preceding campaign of terror.
He notes disappointment at some of the actions of surrounding countries and concludes with:
Any enduring solution must consider the pressing need to cut Iran's military supply lines to terrorists in Gaza. The conflict in Gaza -- as well as the one in Syria -- demonstrates that the threat posed by Iran goes well beyond its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Indeed, the most pressing challenge for Obama in his second term may be the dual task of thwarting Iran's push for nuclear weapons and combating its support for terrorism.
The international community and especially the neighboring Arab and Muslim states, if they truly care for the Palestinians, should make clear that terrorism will never earn the Palestinians statehood and encourage all Palestinian parties to return to the negotiating table to seek a peaceful solution to this decades-long conflict.
To read Congressman Cantor's entire CNN column, go here.
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