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under the radar

California Democrat with competitive reelection joins call for cease-fire, quietly

‘After many conversations with our community members, I am now calling on the Biden Administration and the entire U.S. Government to join me in supporting a bilateral cease-fire agreement,’ Harder said

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) attends the House Appropriations Committee markup of "Fiscal Year 2024 Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Bill," in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, July 18, 2023.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA), a California lawmaker potentially facing a potentially competitive reelection race in November, quietly joined calls for a bilateral cease-fire between Israel and Hamas last Friday.

In a statement posted to his congressional website, Harder cited the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the reported deaths of thousands of civilians and conversations with constituents about the situation in the Middle East.

“After many conversations with our community members, I am now calling on the Biden Administration and the entire U.S. Government to join me in supporting a bilateral ceasefire agreement. I am calling for an end to all current hostilities in order to save millions of innocent lives,” Harder said in the statement. “I have had the opportunity to hear directly from many of you about the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. I share your feelings of heartbreak, frustration, and outrage.”

He said a cease-fire must include humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a “framework” for a two-state solution, the release of all hostages and the end of Hamas’ control in Gaza. He pledged to “continue to push the Biden administration on these points.”

“Now more than ever, we must come together to reject hatred, protect innocent lives, and build a future rooted in peace for all our families and loved ones,” Harder argued.

The California congressman, who represents the Central Valley, described the situation in Gaza as “unsustainable” even before the current conflict, and said the ongoing war was “a result of decades of failures.”

Harder’s call for a cease-fire has largely flown under the radar. Unlike most other cease-fire supporters on the Hill, Harder hasn’t publicized his call on social media, and it originally did not appear alongside other press releases on his congressional website.

The statement was added on Monday to Harder’s press releases page after JI contacted his office, and a Harder spokesperson said it was a mistake that it did not initially appear there. Harder’s office originally published the statement with a shorter and more easily accessible URL, the spokesperson said.

California’s Democratic Party has found itself increasingly divided between left-wing anti-Israel demonstrators demanding an immediate cease-fire and more moderate pro-Israel constituents, including Jewish Democrats.

The Cook Political Report rates Harder’s district as “Likely Democratic.” His likely opponent is Stockton, Calif., Mayor Kevin Lincoln, a Black Marine veteran and pastor running as a moderate dealmaker.

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