by Sam Kornell
Santa Barbara Congresswoman Lois Capps joined three other members of the House of Representatives last week in calling for President George W. Bush to pressure Israel to accept an extended ceasefire while negotiations between Israel and Hizbullah proceed. Capps — who has long supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict — said in a telephone conversation that Israel’s continued aerial bombardment of southern Lebanon, as well as its deepening military presence on the ground, is counterproductive to Israeli and American security interests and is causing unjustifiable suffering and destruction in the small, embattled nation that fronts Israel’s northern border.
“The original policy of the United States was to hang back and allow Israel to retaliate in the way that Israel chose to,” Capps said. “I was not excited about that from the beginning. … After so many civilian deaths — Israeli as well as Lebanese — and so much destruction of the infrastructure of that small, democratic country, and particularly after Saturday’s attack on Qana [in which 56 civilians, including dozens of children, were killed], there is no question that a ceasefire needs to be established immediately.” Capps rejected arguments that a continuing root and branch attack on Hizbullah is necessary to achieve peace in the region. “History shows that Israeli air wars don’t [accomplish such goals]. We do need a long-term settlement, but there’s no way that negotiations are going to start in the midst of such terrible fighting,” she said. “Peace will not come about because of war; it will come about because of negotiation.”