Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Darrell Issa Discusses Congressional Views of Mideast at Orange County Arab American Republican Club

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Darrell Issa Discusses Congressional Views of Mideast at Orange County Arab American Republican Club

Article excerpt

Darrell Issa Discusses Congressional Views of Mideast At Orange County Arab American Republican Club

Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles.

The Orange County Arab American Republican Club honored Darrell Issa, freshman congressman from California's 48th district, at a June 30 dinner at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel.

Representative Issa, who sits on the International Relations Committee, acknowledged that the powerful entity devotes at least one-third of its time on issues dealing with the Middle East. Allowing that he doesn't agree with Democratic Reps. David Bonior and John Dingell on other legislation, Issa said he is their colleague when it comes to the Middle East.

When heads of state from the region testify, he explained, sessions are closed. In one such closed meeting, Issa said, he was appalled at how Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) "brutalized" Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with accusations that he had not convinced Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to cooperate with Israel.

Issa said he was impressed by the Egyptian leader's grasp of diplomatic minutiae. Mubarak admitted that some of what was offered the Palestinian leader was good, but noted it was President Bill Cinton's offer, not Israel's.

The Egyptian president stressed that he advised Arafat there was no guarantee of what Israel would offer and, even if Arafat accepted Clinton's offer, it still remained to be seen whether then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Israeli Knesset would approve Washington's proposal.

At that moment, Issa said, he admired Mubarak's finesse and ability to put Lantos and Gilman in their place.

"Arafat wasn't offered sovereignty," he continued. "There already are two Palestines: Gaza and the West Bank. The settlements are slicing the West Bank into pieces; we must have a contiguous Palestine or there will not be a sovereign nation."

When Representative Gilman insisted in session that Arafat was to blame for refusing the best offer he would ever receive, Issa retorted that the Zionists had turned down offers made to Israel and had waged war to gain control of 80 percent of historical Palestine.

The good news, Issa told his audience, is that committee chair Henry Hyde gave him permission to write a proposal to Congress congratulating Syria and Israel for their partial withdrawal from Lebanon and asking them to reposition completely outside Lebanon's borders. …

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