Too many world leaders’ refuse to condemn Hamas, call for hostage release, 22 House Dems say

The signatories largely consist of pro-Israel moderates but also include a few members who called for suspending U.S. military aid to Israel

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) participates in the House Ways and Means Committee organizing meeting in the Longworth House Office Building on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

Twenty-two House Democrats, mostly pro-Israel moderates but also a few members who called for suspending U.S. military aid to Israel, blasted unnamed foreign leaders for failing to denounce Hamas and for overlooking the plight of the 133 remaining hostages in Gaza.

“Many of the world’s leaders have unfortunately not yet mirrored America’s clear commitment to freeing the hostages and dismantling Hamas,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken. “Half a dozen countries besides the U.S. and Israel have citizens still held hostage in Gaza. In the face of this profound humanitarian challenge, too many world leaders have demonstrated the deafening silence [toward Hamas], refusing to even call for the hostage’s release.”

The lawmakers added, “This is a key moment to exert maximum pressure on Sinwar’s Hamas and clarify that the world demands the hostages be freed,” referring to Oct. 7 mastermind Yahya Sinwar, the head of the terror group’s operations in Gaza. “We commend your leadership and ask you to urge leaders across the world, especially those of Arab countries, to unequivocally call for the hostages to be freed.”

While it doesn’t reference domestic divisions, the letter also comes as some in Washington are raising concerns that lawmakers who’ve been pushing to suspend aid to Israel and have been critical of Israel’s military campaign aren’t grappling with the ongoing plight of the hostages and the gravity of the Oct. 7 attacks.

The letter was led by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), joined by Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Bill Keating (D-MA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), David Trone (D-MD) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

The letter highlights that the hostages, including six U.S. citizens, have been in captivity for more than six months, that Hamas will not confirm how many remain alive and that the hostages are “suffering deprivation, torture and sexual violence.”

It calls on Blinken to “urgently press” Arab and other global leaders “to clearly and firmly call on Hamas” to accept the proposed hostage deal, and praises him for recent comments condemning the world’s failure to condemn Hamas.

Schakowsky co-led a recent letter calling on the administration to suspend arms transfers to Israel and to condition future sales, which was co-signed by Dean. Dean also attended a press conference last week with the families of hostages.

Manning, in an interview last week, said that some colleagues have “moved beyond the horrors of Oct. 7” and were not giving “equal weight to loss of life” by Israelis and others, questioning why there had not been more widespread public outrage toward Hamas.

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