POLITICS

As Biden Stays Mum, Senators Make Bipartisan Call For Cease-Fire In Gaza

As 29 senators call for an immediate halt to violence in Israel and Gaza on Sunday, the president has yet to do the same — despite the Palestinian civilian death toll climbing.

While President Joe Biden has so far declined to call for a cease-fire in Gaza, at least two different groups of senators released statements on Sunday calling for a temporary halt to the violence.

Dozens of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) called for an immediate cease-fire Sunday night “to prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict” in the Gaza strip. That list included long-vocal lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the second most senior Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin (Ill.). 

The coalition also included Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who soon after released a separate bipartisan statement with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) calling for the same thing.

“As a result of Hamas’ rocket attacks and Israel’s response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not escalate the conflict further,” read a joint statement by the senators, who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism.

The statements come just as the Biden administration reportedly blocks the U.N. Security Council from calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and militant group Hamas, two diplomats tell the Times of Israel. The decision makes Sunday the third time in a week that the administration has blocked a joint statement from the council demanding to stop the civilian bloodshed.

During an open security council meeting on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the country is “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try and bring an end to this conflict.” Asked after the meeting if the U.S. planned to back the joint statement being drafted, an official at the U.S. mission told the Times of Israel that “right now we are focused on the intensive diplomatic efforts underway.”

Biden has stayed steadfastly and vocally supportive of Israel despite growing opposition from within his party, from advocacy organizations and from media following the Israeli army’s daily barrage of attacks on Palestinian civilians and a tower that held offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press.

On Saturday, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he strongly supports Israel’s “right to defend itself,” a term the president has employed repeatedly on behalf of Israeli forces but not for Palestinians. In an address this weekend, Netanyahu made clear that he has no intention of engaging in a cease-fire.

Israel deployed its warplanes on Sunday to carry out the deadliest single attack in almost of a week of violence, flattening three buildings in Gaza City and killing at least 42 Palestinian civilians, many of whom were children. Since this escalation began, Hamas rockets shot among settlements have killed eight Israelis, including one child. The resulting nonstop violence from Israel has so far led to at least 188 Palestinians killed in Gaza, including 55 children, with the death toll steadily rising.