Cease-fire call

Jewish House Democrats join calls for ‘mutual, temporary’ Israel-Hamas cease-fire

The lawmakers said such a deal must include the release of all hostages and additional humanitarian aid for Gaza

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) returns to a hearing with the House Committee on Homeland Security on Capitol Hill on January 30, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Thirteen House Democrats on Thursday echoed the Biden administration in calling for a “mutual, temporary” cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, to provide for the “immediate return of all of the 134 hostages,” as well as additional humanitarian aid.

The call — signed by some pro-Israel Democrats as well as others who’ve been more critical of the Israeli military campaign — reflects the shifting politics around the terminology of a “cease-fire,” and the growth in calls for a “temporary cease-fire” to pause the conflict while ensuring the release of hostages.

“We cannot overstate the urgency of the hostages’ situation in Hamas’s captivity in Gaza,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. “Every day that the remaining living hostages are left to suffer in the tunnels in Gaza without medical attention increases the chances that more will die. The hostages and their families simply cannot wait any longer.”

They also described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “dire and desperate.”

The lawmakers said a temporary cease-fire should include the return of all hostages, a halt to Israeli operations in Gaza and rocket fire on Israel and “end the tremendous civilian suffering in Gaza” through significant humanitarian aid.

The lawmakers also suggested that such a pause could ultimately be extended through talks for a permanent political settlement.

“After [a temporary cease-fire] occurs, we can turn our focus forward to working with you and our allies to promote enduring peace in the Middle East through the neutralization of Hamas and the creation of a long sought-after two-state solution,” they continued.

The letter was led by Reps. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), joined by Reps. Becca Balint (D-VT), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Susan Wild (D-PA).

Those signatories include lawmakers who’ve been advocating for months for a cease-fire, as well as more hawkish lawmakers. Landsman, for instance, has voted in favor of both of House Republicans’ stand-alone Israel aid bills, in contrast to most of his Democratic colleagues.

Also on Thursday, Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-MI), a onetime Israel critic turned supporter, told Jewish Insider that he supports a finding a “diplomatic solution that would dismantle Hamas and rebuild Gaza,” adding that he supports efforts for a cease-fire contingent on the release of all hostages, the dismantling of Hamas’ military infrastructure and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.

“Israel has a right to defend itself, and the Israeli people deserve to live without terrorism or harm,” Thanedar said. “The Palestinian people also deserve self-determination and security. However, we cannot achieve long-lasting peace and security in the region with Hamas.”

Separately on Thursday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) urged the administration to provide defensive, rather than offensive weapons, to Israel as part of an anticipated upcoming weapons transfer. “In this delicate moment, when parties are at the table trying to find a path to de-escalation, the Administration should be wary of weapons transfers that are likely to be used in offensive military action causing significant civilian casualties,” Kaine said.

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