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Democrats pressure Biden to call for Israel to back down

A group of Democratic lawmakers is urging the Biden administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.

The resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives also wants the United States to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza “to save as many lives as possible.”

On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. As of Monday, more than 4,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the Associated Press.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,778 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded, the AP reported, while over 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, have been taken hostage by militants.

“Whereas all human life is precious, and the targeting of civilians, no matter their faith or ethnicity, is a violation of international humanitarian law,” says the resolution, which acknowledges the rising death tolls on both sides of the conflict.

It adds that “the federal government holds immense diplomatic power to save Israeli and Palestinian lives.”

The resolution was announced by the following members of Congress:

Cori BushRashida TlaibAndré CarsonSummer LeeDelia C. RamirezJamaal BowmanBonnie Watson ColemanJesús “Chuy” GarcíaJonathan JacksonAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIlhan OmarAyanna PressleyNydia Velázquez

Newsweek reached out to congressional members’ offices, the White House and the National Security Council via email for comment.

Lawmakers across party lines have mostly galvanized in support of Israel following the October 7 attack. President Joe Biden has been praised, even by his political opponents, for his resounding and unequivocal response to Hamas’ deadly actions and for pledging U.S. assistance to Israelis.

Some Democrats, namely those who compose the progressive left wing of the party, have had somewhat mixed reactions.

Tlaib, one of the more progressive members of Congress who has been outspoken about Israel and its policies, was criticized following the initial attacks for her relative silence.

She called for “lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.”

The congresswoman, who represents a major Muslim population in Dearborn, Michigan, later condemned the attacks and said she does not support the targeting and killing of civilians, whether in Israel or Palestine.

“[The] fact that some have suggested otherwise is offensive and rooted in bigoted assumptions about my faith and ethnicity,” she said on October 11.

Her stance has led to some calling for her to be primaried.

A ceasefire was called for almost immediately by congressional members including Bush, a legislator from Missouri, and Ocasio-Cortez, a legislator from New York.

“The United States’ responsibility is to human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said on October 12. “That means supporting the safety of the Israeli people and preventing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”

New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, swiftly dismissed such calls for a ceasefire. He said that the U.S. must support its longtime ally, Israel.

“U.S. aid to Israel is and should be unconditional, and never more so than in this moment of critical need,” Torres said in a statement. “Congress must act decisively to provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself in the face of unprecedented terrorism.”

“Shame on anyone who glorifies as ‘resistance’ the largest single-day mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust,” Torres added. “It is reprehensible and repulsive.”

The White House also rebuked the aforementioned Democrats’ statements.

“We believe [their statements are] wrong,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday. “We believe they’re repugnant and we believe they’re disgraceful.”

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