Congressman: Open Up Gaza

Democratic Rep. Baird has called on Obama to force Israel to open up Gaza crossing, which Israel has partially closed to stop weapons smuggling.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 12:20

Trucks pass through Gaza crosing
Trucks pass through Gaza crosing
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Democratic Congressman Brian Baird has called on President Barack Obama to force Israel to allow open borders for the de facto Hamas rule in Gaza. Baird, visiting in Gaza, told students there, "We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift."

Rep. Baird, from the State of Washington, referred to Israel's partial ban on the flow of goods and merchandise to Gaza as a "blockade." He previously has called for cutting aid to Israel unless it opens up the border crossings, which it has closed because of repeated attempts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza region.

Baird, who recently announced he will not run for re-election, also has supported the Goldstone Report that alleged Israel committed war crimes in the war against Hamas terrorists last year. Arguing against a Congressional resolution that called for rejecting the Goldstone Report, Baird noted he had visited rocket-battered Sderot but that Israel violated human rights of Arabs in Gaza.

After Israel's three-week Operation Cast Lead campaign last year, Baird, Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison and Sen. John Kerry visited Gaza despite the U.S. government's ban on Hamas, which it has declared an illegal terrorist organization. They were the first Congress members to enter Gaza since Hamas seized control of the region in a militia war against the rival Fatah faction in 2007.

His visit this week was followed by an announcement by the White House that Vice President Joe Biden will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan next month. His visit coincides with renewed efforts by the United States to resume talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to establish the PA as a new Arab country within Israel's current borders.

Vice President Biden (below) has encouraged American diplomatic intervention and said three years ago, "There has never been progress in the Middle East without the United States acting as a catalyst."

He previously has stated that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Hamas, which he said "must choose: bullets or ballots." The Vice President, in a remark that upset American officials, declared last year that the United States should not stand in Israel's way if it wants to attack Iran in order to prevent it from reaching nuclear capability.

"We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened," he stated. However, Biden has also said "Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran."