Case cites Iran
as new peace threat
in Mideast

He also says the Akaka Bill
likely will fail if Bush opposes it

U.S. Rep. Ed Case pushed for peace in the Middle East, raised concerns about the national economy and handicapped the Akaka Bill in a speech yesterday to the Hawaii Publishers Association.

Fresh from a week-long trip to Israel, Case said peace in the region is the best way to promote democracy and eliminate terrorism.

"This is a place where we can exercise power to achieve a stability in the world that is too often lacking," he said. "If we don't achieve peace in the Middle East and Israel, we really won't have effective peace in many other parts of the world."

He said the primary threat to Israel is Iran.

Israelis view Iran as "a direct threat to their country for the same reasons we view Iraq as a threat," he said.

Iran is subject to "a dictatorship committed to the destruction of Israel and soon may be in possession of weapons of mass destruction," he said. "That's Iran today, and it scares the bejesus out of Israel."

Case, D-rural Oahu, neighbor islands, also criticized the Bush administration for its handling of the federal budget. He noted that a series of recently passed tax cuts would cost the federal government $2 trillion over the next 10 years.

"I don't think we can afford that," Case said, adding core government functions and programs would have to be eliminated.

The government also drove the deficit to record territory of $500 billion which is "just irresponsible," he said, adding that the nation was on track to a surplus three years ago.

Case, who replaced the late Rep. Patsy Mink last year, said the "single, most important bill for Hawaii in Congress is the Akaka Bill," but passage of the measure depends on the Bush administration.

"If the president supports federal recognition or is neutral on federal recognition, it will occur. If he opposes it, it probably will not occur," he said. The Akaka bill would set up a process upon which native Hawaiians can form their own government, similar to that of Native Americans.

Gov. Linda Lingle has the ability to influence the Bush administration on the bill, said Case.

"And I am convinced she is trying to do what she can ... but it will take everybody working all the time in the immediate future to get this through the Senate," he said.

"Hawaii without the survival and prosperity of the native Hawaiians is not a Hawaii that we want to live in nor a Hawaii that we can prosper in economically," he said.


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