newsU.S.-Israel Relations

18 House Democrats sign resolution for Mideast de-escalation, ceasefire

“These radical Democrats clearly need a history lesson,” said Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

U.S. House of Representatives Seal. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock.
U.S. House of Representatives Seal. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock.

A resolution “calling for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine” has drawn 18 House Democrats signatories, led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).

Bush’s fellow “Squad” members Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) were among the original co-signers of H.Res. 786. Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) and Greg Casar (D-Texas) were also signatories. Bowman and Lee signed on at the beginning, on Oct. 16, and Casar added his name on Oct. 18.

The most recent signatory was Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) on Oct. 20.

The resolution notes that “between Oct. 7 and Oct. 16, 2023, armed violence has claimed the lives of over 2,700 Palestinians and over 1,400 Israelis, including Americans, and wounded thousands more.”

It adds that “hundreds of thousands of lives are at imminent risk if a ceasefire is not achieved and humanitarian aid is not delivered without delay,” without, apparently, differentiating between civilians whom Hamas terrorists killed and terrorists whom Israel killed.

If passed, the legislation would urge “the Biden administration to immediately call for and facilitate de-escalation and a cease-fire to urgently end the current violence” and “to promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”

“Let me be clear: The collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza is a war crime. With a full-scale invasion of Gaza likely imminent, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives hang in the balance—and it’s not only happening right before our eyes, it’s happening with the support and power of the United States government,” Bush stated.

‘We must aid them’

Several signatories responded to a request for comment.

Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) said he is “proud” to co-sponsor the resolution.

“Our call for action is clear: Every human life is precious, and no civilian—Israeli or Palestinian—should fear for their life,” he told JNS. “I condemn the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians, and I also condemn the Israeli government’s cruel response on millions of Palestinians. The answer is not more military response and more killing of innocent children and women.”

Carson, who said 2 million Gaza civilians are “particularly vulnerable,” claimed that Israel “announced plans for ground military operations against civilians.”

JNS has not received any statement from Israel about its intention to attack civilians. Longstanding and extensive news reporting has addressed the lengths to which Israel has gone in the last few weeks, and for past military operations, to minimize civilian casualties, including prior warnings about attack sites and warning shots.

Rep. Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.), another signatory, told JNS that signing the resolution was part of a broader effort to help Israel defend itself against Hamas terrorism and to call for de-escalation. He added that he recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a trip to Israel.

“I know firsthand that Israel is our friend, and we must aid them to defend themselves against Hamas’s terrorism,” Jackson said. “I am also focused on diplomatic efforts—from signing onto this resolution that calls for de-escalation and humanitarian aid to pushing the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm ambassadors to Israel and Egypt.”

Derrick Utley, Tlaib’s communications director, did not respond to questions from JNS, instead referring to a press release from Bush.

‘These Democrats clearly need a history lesson’

The resolution is “clearly” not representative of the views of most Democrats, including the party’s leaders, according to Mark Mellman, president and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel.

“[U.S.] President [Joe] Biden has made it clear that Israel needs to dismantle Hamas,” Mellman told JNS. “Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and most Democrats also have that same understanding.” 

His organization is working hard to discourage elected officials from signing the resolution, he added.

“Any Israel-related resolution co-sponsored by the likes of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Summer Lee is bound to be wildly skewed, wrong-headed and undermine the security interests of the United States and our greatest ally in the Middle East,” said Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “This resolution is no different.”

Markstein questioned what the co-sponsors meant by “occupied Palestine.”

“These radical Democrats clearly need a history lesson, as Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. There is not a single Israeli in Gaza, except for the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists, which this resolution shamefully does not recognize,” Markstein told JNS. (Spokesmen for two of the representatives who signed the bill noted that the members were among the more than 200 who co-signed H.Res. 793, which calls for Hamas to release the hostages.)

Americans would have been “rightfully angered” if elected officials in foreign countries demanded a ceasefire on Sept. 12, 2001 “and tied the hands of our country in the fight against Al-Qaeda,” Markstein said. “This is no different. Israel has the absolute right to defend itself from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah terrorists.”

David May, a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS that the resolution signatories “were playing into Hamas’s playbook.”

“Calling for a ceasefire now that would leave Hamas in charge of Gaza,” he said. “Not eliminating the threat will be counterproductive and would simply put a band-aid on the situation.”

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