Joe Biden, the United States President, expressed support for a cease-fire between Israeli forces and Gaza’s militant Hamas’s rulers in a call to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday (May 17), but stopped short of demanding an immediate halt to the 8-days of Israeli air raids and Hamas’s rocket firing that have killed over two-hundred people, most of them Palestinian.
In a White House readout of his second known call to Benjamin Netanyahu in three days as the attacks pounded on, Joe Biden’s carefully worded statement came with the government under pressure to respond more forcefully despite its determination to wrench the United States foreign policy focus away from Middle East clashes.
Over twenty-five Democratic senators, led by Georgia Senator Thomas Jonathan Ossoff, released a joint statement calling for an immediate cease-fire promise in Israeli and the Palestinian territories to ‘prevent further life-loss and further escalation of violence.’
The U.S. senators wrote in a joint statement first obtained by CNN that to prevent further civilian life losses and prevent further escalation of clashes in Israeli and the Palestinian territories, they urge an immediate cease-fire.
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According to Gaza’s Palestinian Health Ministry data, this comes as May 16 marked the bloodiest day of the seven-day conflict so far. Moreover, Israeli air raids have killed at least fifty-two Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday.
The joint statement from the Democratic senators and two independent U.S. senators who caucus with Democrats signals the growing concern in the United States Senate over the escalation of violence in the Middle East.
The list of United States Senators who joined the Statement
The recent conflict began at the start of last week, fueled by controversy over intended evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and limitations at a popular meeting point close to the Old City.
Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, lead the group of senators to release the joint declaration. President Biden and the White House have shown little readiness to bend to pressure from progressives calling for the more robust denunciation of Israel’s movements. While speaking at the White House in the previous week, American said he didn’t detect a disproportionate response to Hamas’ rocket fires from Israel.
Mr. Biden said that at the White House, when asked whether Netanyahu is doing enough to stop violence from escalating that one of the things that he’s seen, thus far, is that there hasn’t been a significant over-reaction.
The question is, how to get to a point where they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the raids, particularly the rocket fires that are indiscriminately fired into population centers.
The list of United States senators who joined the statement includes Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Tom Carper of Delaware, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Angus King of Maine, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Patty Murray of Washington, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Cori Bush linked Palestinian problems to those of Black Americans
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, Central Asia, South Asia and Counterterrorism, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and the ranking member of the committee, Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana, also released a joint bipartisan declaration calling for a cease-fire on Sunday after the deadliest day so far in the latest clash.
They said that Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas’ rocket firing in a manner proportionate with the threat its residents are facing. As a result of Hamas’ rocket firing and Israeli response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and mustn’t escalate the clash further.
Murphy and Young said they are encouraged by reports that the parties are exploring a cease-fire. Moreover, both of them hope that this cease-fire could be reached quickly and that additional steps could be taken to preserve a two-state future.
A Missouri Democrat, Representative Cori Bush, linked Palestinian problems to those of Black Americans. Bush tweeted they oppose their money going to fund militarized policing, occupation, and systems of violent domination and trauma.
But Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, took the Senate floor Monday to assail legislators for including Israel in their demands for a cease-fire.