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Letter from members of Congress to President Nicolas Sarkozy (Paris, France), March 11, 2008, regarding United Nations Security Council member from France supporting Libyan resolution (2 pages)



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W a s h i n g t o n , 20515 March 11,2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy Republic of France Elysee Palace Paris, France Dear Mr. President: We write to thank you for your friendship and for the great leadership France has shown during your Presidency. In your historic speech to the Congress last November, you made great strides toward bringing our two countries even closer together in an ever-stronger alliance. As you said, "the state of our friendship and our alliance is strong" and we hope it will continue to grow only stronger in the coming years. We are also pleased to see the role France has played in increasing the pressure on Iran through United Nations sanctions. We, too, believe diplomatic pressure is the best way to ensure the Iranians do not obtain nuclear weapons. Finally, we admire your efforts to strengthen Holocaust education in France. It is a model we can learn from in the United States. Because of the high regard we have for you, and our interest in close relations between our two countries, we write to you to address an issue of great concern at the United Nations. For many years, Hamas has fired rockets at Israel from Gaza. These attacks have increased significantly since Hamas took control of Gaza and, more recently, they fired Iranian-made rockets at Ashkelon, a city of 120,000. The likelihood of a major increase in the number of casualties is great, and with the missiles' increased range, they may soon be able to reach Tel Aviv. Last week, after years of restraint, Israel justifiably responded with an incursion into Gaza to strike at Hamas and Islamic Jihad military installations. While the action was clearly targeted at terrorist cells, unfortunately, those installations were located in civilian residential areas, resulting in civilian deaths. It is clear, however, that the targets were military and the civilian deaths were unintended. The UN Security Council, which has taken no action against Hamas' lethal rocket attacks on Israel, and which ignores many other serious international conflicts, promptly went into session to condemn Israel's self-defense efforts. Libya introduced a draft resolution that would severely restrict Israel's ability to defend itself and protect its citizens against the continuing acts of violence initiated by terrorists in Gaza. We wish to express our concern that the Representative of France on the Security Council has indicated support of the Libyan text, with only minor amendments. The French amendments would (a) condemn the firing of rockets and call for the immediate cessation PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER of those acts, and (b) condemn the "disproportionate and excessive use of force by Israel, while recognizing Israel's right to defend itself" While we welcome the condemnation of the rocket attacks, we are concerned that, in the absence of an enforcement mechanism, there will be no way to stop the rocket fire. Further, we believe there is no basis in international humanitarian law to condemn Israel for the "disproportionate and excessive use of force." Israel - like any UN member state - has every right to defend itself and its citizens, and the actions it has taken cannot be seen as "disproportionate" or "excessive" in that context. These other provisions not only subject Israel to further and intensified rocket attacks, but also seeks to prevent Israel from taking effective security measures to defend its population against terrorism, including suicide bombers. For all the foregoing reasons, we hope you will examine the texts considered by the UN Security Council and instruct your representative to work with ours and those of other likeminded nations to stop any such one-sided resolutions from proceeding at the UN. We are confident you will not support any efforts that might reduce Israel's ability to defend itself against attack. We fully understand the challenges that your representative faces at the UN, as the pressure and influence of anti-Israel and anti-Western blocs are both formidable and discouraging. While we are encouraged by his opposition to the vitriol we hear from so many corners, these texts are still concerning to us. We all seek a peaceful resolution to this conflict, and we must continue to support every country's right to self-defense, while standing up to terrorists and these unprovoked rocket attacks. Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you for many years into the future. ( Ranking Member Committee on Foreign Affairs SHELLEY Member Committee Sincerely,