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What Our Elected Leaders Said About Israel, While the Rockets Were Flying

President Joseph Biden

May 19, 2021:

President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today. The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States. The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.

May 17, 2021:

The President spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks. The President welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem. He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians. The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The President expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end. The two leaders agreed that they and their teams would remain in close touch.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker

May 17, 2021:

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) joined Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and a group of 29 Senators in calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories:

“To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire,” the 29 Senators said in a joint statement.

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez

May 15, 2021:

“I am deeply troubled by reports of Israeli military actions that resulted in the death of innocent civilians in Gaza as well as Israeli targeting of buildings housing international media outlets. In response to thousands of rocket attacks fired by Hamas aimed at civilians, Israel has every right to self-defense from terrorists committed to wipe her off the face of the map. But no matter how dangerous and real that threat may be, I have always believed the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship flourishes when it is based on the shared values of democracy, freedom, pluralism and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

“Given the complexity of Gaza’s densely populated civilian areas, and Hamas’s shameful record of exploiting that reality by hiding military assets behind the innocent, Israeli authorities must continue taking the conscientious practice of giving advance warning of its attacks to reduce the risk of harm to the innocent. I also believe there must be a full accounting of actions that have led to civilian deaths and destruction of media outlets. All political and military leaders have a responsibility to uphold the rules and laws of war and it is of the utmost importance for all actors to find ways to deescalate and reduce tensions. This violence must end. Any death of civilians and innocent Jews and Arabs alike is a setback to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

Representative Mikie Sherrill

11th District of New Jersey

May 14, 2021:

“I joined the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ to express my heartbreak for those innocent civilians who have recently lost their lives, my anger at and condemnation of the terrorist acts by Hamas, and to reaffirm my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

My thoughts are with all Israelis and Palestinians suffering in the region. I urge leaders to put an end to hostilities so we can begin the process of building a sustained, meaningful peace through a two-state solution where inhabitants of the Holy Land are afforded their basic right to live and worship freely.”

Representative Josh Gottheimer

5th District of New Jersey

In remarks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, May 13, 2021:

I rise today as millions of Israeli citizens are reeling from a barrage of more than 1,500 rockets fired throughout the country by the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

In case there is any confusion: Hamas is a terrorist organization designated by the United States, dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and which Congress has—and must—condemn for killing innocent civilians, and using women and children as human shields.

No one here should make excuses for a terrorist organization.

Who is the next object of their sympathy? ISIS? Al-Qaeda? Hezbollah?

Even though we may not always agree about Israel’s policies, we should be very clear that nothing—nothing—justifies a terrorist organization firing rockets at our ally. And between terrorists and a democracy, we should always choose the democracy.

Our commitment to Israel’s security, and to its right to defend itself from terrorists, is ironclad.

I am glad that President Biden, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense have stood with our key democratic ally, insisted that Hamas stop firing rockets, and engaged regional partners to help end this crisis. No matter our disagreements, there should be no false equivalences or excuses made by anyone, on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization.

As we stand together with our historic ally Israel, we continue to call for an end to the violence and for calm in the region—for the sake of children and families, and for the sake of peace.

Representative Tom Malinowski

7th District of New Jersey

May 13, 2021:

“I am deeply concerned about the escalating situation in the Middle East, and urge the Biden Administration to elevate its efforts to achieve a cessation of hostilities.

This week, Hamas once again hijacked and militarized a Palestinian protest movement by launching a barrage of rockets against Israel. When Hamas fires inherently indiscriminate weapons at populated areas, that is terrorism, a deliberate attempt to kill civilians, threatening Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel alike. No grievance can justify this.

Israel has a clear right to defend its people against such attacks, including by launching targeted and proportional strikes against those firing the rockets. In the last few days, we have also seen how vital U.S. support for Israel’s defenses is, including through the Iron Dome missile defense system. Such support must continue.

At the same time, every effort should be made to avert an all-out war between Israel and Hamas that would increase the suffering of civilians on both sides, and the intensity of communal conflict within Israel. I hope the administration will intensify its engagement with Israel and regional states, including Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and the countries that normalized relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords, to encourage deescalation and a long-term cease-fire. This effort should be visibly led by the most senior administration officials, who should make clear that a return to yesterday’s status quo is unsustainable and that meaningful signals of progress on a long-term solution must accompany any ceasefire.

I strongly support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But these events are a stark reminder that with no prospect for two states in the foreseeable future, more must be done to ensure that Arab citizens of Israel, including in East Jerusalem, enjoy equal rights and protection of law, and that Palestinians are treated with dignity and respect by the Israeli government and Palestinian authority alike. No one, whether Jewish or Palestinian, should be evicted from homes they have lived in for decades because of claims arising from before the creation of the state of Israel. No one should have to fear mob violence and those inciting it should be held accountable. The status of Jerusalem as a home for multiple faiths should be respected by everyone.

The United States can do its part here by resuming aid to support the education and welfare of ordinary Palestinians, strengthening the capacity of the Palestinian authority to provide security, and advocating for basic human rights, while pressing Palestinian leaders to stop practices that effectively reward terror and rhetoric that inflames the situation further.

This is a moment that demands wise leadership, from the United States and our regional allies, and most of all from Israelis and Palestinians committed to the peace and security that all who share this sacred piece of land deserve.”

Representative Bill Pascrell

9th District of New Jersey

May 15, 2021:

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today condemned the continuing firing of deadly rockets into Israel by the terror group Hamas and the growing regional violence. In a statement last week, Rep. Pascrell called for an end to hostilities:

“The continued violence in the Middle East is horrifying the entire world. The Israelis and Palestinians must each urgently de-escalate to avoid a deadly war and prevent further civilian casualties. I am grateful for the Biden Administration’s continued responsible engagement to end the escalation and I support the President’s deployment of an envoy to the region.

“Deadly rocket attacks by Hamas into Israel are terrorism that puts innocent lives at risk. The nation of Israel has the right to defend itself from this terrorism. All parties though must seek to end the cycle of violence, which is causing loss of life and threatens to consume the entire region. Extremism, vicious rhetoric and a heavy-handed response will only exacerbate the tensions in the region. Both parties must agree to a cease fire immediately.”

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