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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Giffords calls for Middle East peace

    U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spoke to local and UA community members about her recent trip to Israel at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Friday.

    The talk, which kicked off her weeklong schedule of public forums addressing the Tucson community, focused on her impressions and concerns for the conflicted region, and included an overview of her meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian government officials.

    “”We have to work toward a peaceful coexistence,”” said Giffords, D-Ariz. “”Israel has a right to exist, but so does Palestine.””

    Giffords also expressed her disappointment over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s last-minute cancellation of a scheduled meeting.

    UA Judaic studies professor Esther Fuchs questioned why the meeting was cancelled.

    “”The delegation made a promise to support Israel,”” Fuchs said. “”Did they make the same commitment to support the Palestinians?””

    Gifford emphasized the importance of dialogue and the commitment by both the Palestinians and Israelis to work together to end the violence.

    “”Fatah’s ability to deliver, to prevent suicide bombings, is of great consequence,”” Giffords said. “”The wall being built (in the West Bank) that’s dividing families and communities is of great consequence. Unemployment is of great consequence.””

    The discussion turned to Iraq and the Democrats’ strategy to pull out as well as the looming threat of Iran.

    The audience laughed and applauded when Giffords said, “”Right now we have a Democrat-controlled Congress and a White House that by and large does its own thing.””

    Giffords said that she doesn’t support attacking Iran but believes in economic sanctions against the country.

    When an audience member asked Giffords about the $30 billion a month spent on the military in Iraq, she said she believed the entire Iraq situation was executed poorly and sees a political, rather than military, solution to the problem.

    “”Our presence could be hindering the Iraqi administration from stepping up and taking control,”” she said.

    Giffords ended the discussion by talking about a Tucson family she helped rescue out of the Gaza Strip after its borders were shut down when Hamas gained control in June.

    A few audience members said they didn’t get a chance to ask Giffords their questions, but felt the congresswoman did a good job of addressing multiple sides of the conflict.

    Dina Afek, a UA College of Law alumna, said she hoped the congresswoman was interested in making progress and bettering the situation of the Palestinians.

    Fuchs said she was impressed by Gifford’s diplomacy but acknowledged that the U.S.’s unwavering support of Israel limited her ability to be more innovative.

    “”I thought she was a good politician and gave a bright and balanced approach to many of the issues,”” Fuchs said. “”She handled it well within the conflicts but didn’t mention the Palestinians’ strife or if she went and saw a checkpoint.””

    Giffords has represented the 8th Congressional District of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives since her election in 2006. This was her third trip to Israel. She will be on campus Wednesday to meet with the Solar Energy Advisory Council and tour the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory.

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