U.S. Rep. Summer Lee and four other progressive Democrats introduced a resolution Monday calling for an immediate ceasefire in “Israel and occupied Palestine.”
Lee, who represents Squirrel Hill, is co-sponsoring the Ceasefire Now resolution along with Reps. Cori Bush (Missouri), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), André Carson (Indiana) and Delia C. Ramirez (Illinois).
The resolution states that “between October 7 and October 16, 2023, armed violence has claimed the lives of over 2,700 Palestinians and over 1,400 Israelis, including Americans, and wounded thousands more,” and calls for the Biden administration “to immediately call for and facilitate deescalation and a cease-fire to urgently end the current violence.”
There is no mention in the resolution of Hamas terrorism, and it does not call for the release of the estimated 200 hostages from several countries that Hamas abducted during its Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians.
The resolution urges the United States to send and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza but does not call for humanitarian aid to be sent to Israel.
Reps. Jamaal Bowman (New York), Bonnie Watson Coleman (New Jersey), Jesús “Chuy” García (Illinois), Jonathan Jackson (Illinois), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts) and Nydia Velázquez (New York) also have signed onto the resolution.
After Israel suffered the deadliest attack in its history, it unleashed a bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground operation intending to eradicate Hamas.
The Israel Defense Forces says it is trying to clear away civilians ahead of a major campaign in the north of the enclave, where the terrorists have extensive networks of tunnels and rocket launchers, The Times of Israel reported. Hamas, however, has urged people to stay in their homes. The Israeli military has released photos it said showed a Hamas roadblock preventing traffic from moving south.
Lee’s Ceasefire Now resolution is unlikely to gain much traction. President Joe Biden and the vast majority of Congress have expressed strong support for Israel and its right to self-defense. A bipartisan resolution introduced last week affirming unequivocal support for Israel and condemning the Hamas attack had more than 400 co-sponsors. Lee has not signed on to that resolution.
Laura Cherner, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Council, said that it is imperative that members of Congress support Israel’s right to self-defense and call for the safe return of the hostages.
“Hamas is currently holding almost 200 civilians, including American citizens, hostage in Gaza,” Cherner said. “Now more than ever, we need leadership in Congress to demand their immediate release and reaffirm Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the deadliest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust. Innocent lives, Israeli and Palestinian, depend on it.”
Lee posted a condemnation of “Hamas’ horrifying attack on children and civilians” on Oct. 7 on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. But in that same post, Lee also called for “an end to the occupation” and a “de-escalation and end to this tragic cycle of violence.”
Last weekend, Lee posted a series of tweets expressing sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza and condemning Israel for “human rights violations.”
We must hold, even allies like Israel, to international law and demand an end to the blatant human rights violations being committed in front of our eyes. We must demand a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to make it into the region.
— Summer Lee (@SummerForPA) October 14, 2023
The Chronicle reached out to Lee requesting an interview. Her office said she was not available, but sent the following prepared statement:
“The violence that continues to escalate in Israel and Palestine is devastating to watch. I once again strongly condemn the violence, terrorism, and hostage taking by Hamas that tore away the lives of over a thousand Israeli civilians. But we cannot allow innocent civilians in Gaza — including children — to continue to be collectively and inhumanely punished for Hamas’ horrific actions, as we’ve already seen Israeli airstrikes kill thousands of civilians against international human rights law, and force hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes. Continued retaliation against civilians will do nothing to end this tragic cycle of violence.
“It is important to remember that a ceasefire resolution would include the safe return of civilian hostages. That’s why today, I’m joining Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), André Carson (IN-07), Delia Ramirez (IL-04), and more of my colleagues to demand an end to the violence, a ceasefire, and the immediate passage of humanitarian aid to the 2.2 million people of Gaza who have been forced to live without food, water, and electricity.”
Lee’s office said she is working to co-sponsor a resolution condemning Hamas and calling for all hostages to be released immediately. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com