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Top US Democrats: 'Israel Has Right to Defend Itself'

America's top Democrats told reporters Wednesday that Israel had the right to stop the flotilla from violating its territorial waters.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/3/2010, 1:30 PM / Last Update: 6/3/2010, 2:45 PM

Flash 90

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on the offensive Wednesday to defend Israel's right to protect its territorial waters.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that Israel was within its legal rights in stopping the Turkey-sponsored six-ship flotilla from violating its territorial waters and breaking its naval embargo on Gaza.

Biden said during an interview on the “Charlie Rose” television program, “You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not, and the – but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know... whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”

Pelosi told reporters, “I know that blockades have consequences. And, again, we all saw this in real time because everyone has a camera, and I think that people make a case on either side as to who was provocative and who was not. But the fact is, this is a terribly regrettable situation. I regret the loss of life first and foremost,” she said, “and again call for a credible and transparent investigation to find out how this came to be.”

Pelosi refused to be drawn into the blame game, and emphasized that “Israel is our friend. I think with Israel we have a very close friendship, and to have a democratic Jewish state in that region is something that has been a goal of our foreign policy. It is something that is based on our national security interest; it is about us as much – even more – than it is about them. We all – many of us here – are striving for a two-state solution,” she added, “but it has to be a solution where there is security for both sides.”

Lieberman: Blockade Removal in Exchange for Shalit Visits
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented Thursday that Israel might consider further lifting the blockade if Hamas agrees to allow monthly visits to kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit has been held hostage by Hamas terrorists since he was abducted by Hamas terrorists in a deadly cross-border raid by near the Kerem Shalom crossing on June 25, 2006. His condition and whereabouts remain unknown.