Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, told Congress Wednesday that while the nation is fighting to free Kuwait from Iraq, it should also call an international conference to resolve Israeli-Palestinian problems and structure long-term Middle East peace.
"The United States of America is unquestionably the world's only true superpower. . . . Military victory can only be a matter of time," said Orton, a new member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee."But there is still a greater power in this nation. It is the power of freedom and the love of peace." Orton added, "The president should take this opportunity to call for an international peace conference to resolve all issues of war and peace in the Middle East. It is not too early to sue for peace."
Saddam Hussein once called for a similar conference on differences between Israel and Palestinians as a condition for his possible withdrawal from Kuwait, but the United States refused to link the issues.
With the ongoing fighting, Orton said, "we have made our point - there is no linkage. . . . Now is the ideal time to call for a peace conference on the Middle East."
Orton had proposed the idea earlier, but on Wednesday he added some detail to it. For example, he said any peace conference dealing with Israel and its Arab neighbors must be based on four ground rules:
1. "No more terrorism. All participants must denounce terrorism and cooperate in investigation and prosecution of terrorists."
2. "Israel's safety must be guaranteed. Israel has an absolute right to exist within safe and secure borders. Any attack against Israel will be treated as an attack against the world community."
3. Palestinians in Israeli-occupied areas should be given self-rule. "Palestinians have an absolute right to exist in a Palestinian state with governmental self-rule."
4. Jerusalem should be a neutral city. "Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Christians and Moslems. It should be an international city similar to the Vatican."
Even though many countries in the region have proclaimed opposition to one or more of such goals, Orton said, "These four points are not negotiable. All other grievances and issues - including borders - are negotiable."
While the United States has managed a worldwide coalition against Saddam, "now is the time to strike a blow for peace while the world is united in a coalition against aggression," Orton said.
"Let America, the world's greatest superpower, use all her might for peace. Let the fire kindled in the cradle of civilization light the torch of world peace - not fan the flames of Armageddon."