House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when questioned about the Gaza blockade on Wednesday, refused to denounce it but expressed her regret over the Israeli raid on the flotilla, calling for an independent investigation of the incident.
"I appreciate what you are saying, that people are suffering from different physical challenges because of the blockade," Pelosi said on a conference call Tuesday, in response to a question from blogger Mike Stark. "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 and again call for a credible and transparent investigation to find out how this came to be."
When questioned about the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Pelosi's restrained response mirrored that of Obama, who placed no blame on Tuesday when he called the situation "deeply regrettable."
"There is a very strong interest in getting the facts," said Pelosi. "A transparent and credible investigation is what people are calling for -- that's what the White House has mentioned and that's what I support as well. We have to have the facts on which to make a judgment about how to go forward."
Protesters in Chicago and elsewhere have denounced the raid, which was conducted in international waters and is the subject of global outrage. More than 2,000 protesters gathered in downtown Chicago Tuesday night, waving Palestinian flags along with signs calling for an end to Israeli occupation.
Pelosi said the United States's response must also take Israel's role as a national security partner into consideration.
"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... But it has to be a solution where there is security for both sides. And hopefully President Obama will be able to use his good offices to achieve such a goal that has been bipartisan in support in Congress. But again, I believe that the specialness of our relationship with Israel has as much to do with our own national security as it does with theirs."
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