The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Thursday on a strong resolution supporting Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah and Hamas. The lawmakers held an extended debate Wednesday on the crisis in the Middle East.
House lawmakers support Israel's right to use appropriate action to defend itself against attacks.
They say such defense includes conducting operations both in Israel and the territory of nations posing a threat to it, under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.
The resolution notes Lebanon's failure to disarm and disband the Hezbollah in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and it blames Iran and Syria for supporting terrorist activities against Israel.
"Any result of this fighting that leaves Hezbollah in occupation of southern Lebanon will be a victory for Iran and for Syria, for fanaticism and for terror, and a defeat for Lebanon and for Middle East peace," said California Democrat Tom Lantos.
"Any government that would allow terrorists to attack its citizens and do nothing in response but protest or beg for mercy would betray its most sacred trust," said Henry Hyde, Republican Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, in defending Israel's response to Hezbollah and Hamas.
This past Tuesday, the Senate approved a similar resolution.
Democratic Senator Joseph Biden says the Bush administration needs to gather the diplomatic backing it needs to pressure Syria and Iran to end their support for Hezbollah and Hamas. "For the world's own good, now is the time to put the screws on Syria, make the world united in their dissatisfaction and communicate it to the Iranians, build up the Lebanese capability, and focus on Hezbollah as the problem," he said.
As Senator Biden was speaking, White House spokesman Tony Snow was telling reporters the U.S. is stepping up diplomatic efforts.
However, responding to a reporter's question, he said those will not include any direct high-level contacts between President Bush and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. "There is absolutely no reason to assume, based on the track record, that negotiations and conversations with the Syrians would yield any fruit," he said.
Syria's State-run News Agency Wednesday said the Syrian leader, in a telephone conversation with Turkey's Prime Minister, discussed the need for the international community to quickly arrange a ceasefire.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and other U.S. officials say a solution is needed that will result in a long-term ceasefire along the Israel-Lebanon border, and enable the Lebanese government to assert control in the area.