No Cease-fire

Lawmakers urge administration to resist calls for a unilateral Israeli cease-fire

The letter comes amid growing calls from some congressional Democrats for a cease-fire

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Destroyed homes and buildings of central Gaza smolder as the Israeli Defense Forces continued their campaign against Hamas militants outside of Sderot, Israel.

Amid calls from the left for a unilateral cease-fire by Israel in Gaza, a group of nearly 30 lawmakers — most of them moderate pro-Israel Democrats — called on Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Thursday to resist calls for such a move.

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), argued in a letter that the only path to peace is through an unconditional surrender by Hamas and its release of all of its hostages. They emphasized that any cease-fire with Hamas would only lead to further bloodshed in the future. 

While it doesn’t directly address rhetoric from other lawmakers, the letter is reflective of — and appears to be a response to — the ways in which the language of a cease-fire has become increasingly politicized on the left.

“We write to you today to call on Hamas to immediately release all the hostages held in Gaza, cease all rocket fire on Israel, lay down its arms, and surrender control of Gaza to a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” the lawmakers wrote. “There should be no mistaking that Hamas has within its control the ability to stop this conflict and bring relief to the Palestinians they were elected to govern.”

The language surrounding Democrats’ views towards Israel’s war against Hamas has gotten muddled in recent weeks. Some Democratic lawmakers, including a handful of moderates, have invoked the language of a “cease-fire” but have also conditioned it on the release of hostages and, in rarer cases, Hamas’ disarmament.

The lawmakers in the new letter said that any unilateral Israeli cease-fire would not ultimately protect civilians.

“We applaud your stand against calls for a one-sided ceasefire. Americans do not want an ephemeral ceasefire that will merely return the region to the status quo, with Hamas empowered to regroup and fulfill its promise to repeat the attacks of October 7,” the letter continues. “Ceasefires with an unrepentant Hamas have been tried time and again, and every time have led to stronger attacks by Hamas, culminating in the present tragedy. Another Hamas ceasefire will only lead to more death and destruction for everyone.”

They argued that the civilians in Gaza would receive “real, sustainable relief from the fighting… immediately” if the Hamas leadership surrendered and released their hostages.

“Hamas will lose this war that they started on October 7, but they can, if they decide, make the decent choice to immediately bring this war to an end, to lay down their arms and save the lives of the Palestinians they’ve oppressed and used as human shields for so many years,” the letter reads.

Some lawmakers who have endorsed a cease-fire have conditioned it on Hamas’ surrender and the release of hostages, but this letter stands apart in its avoidance of the terminology of a cease-fire to describe such an end-state scenario.

The letter was co-signed by Democratic Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Grace Meng (D-NY), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Shri Thanedar (D-MI), Don Davis (D-NC), Pat Ryan (D-NY), Angie Craig (D-MN), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Greg Landsman (D-OH).

Republicans Don Bacon (R-NE), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Gallagher (R-FL) and Jim Baird (R-IN) also signed on.

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