House Majority Leader: Israel Has the Right to Defend Itself

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on Tuesday evening on the situation in Israel and Gaza: “I continue to be saddened by the loss of innocent civilian life in Israel and Gaza occurring as a result of Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks. Israel has the right to defend itself, as any nation does when its civilians are targeted by violence from a terrorist organization whose aim is nothing short of mass murder and the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state. Democrats have, for decades, been defenders of Israel because the Jewish state’s rebirth was an inspiring act of progressive justice. We must not allow extremists to hijack important discussions about securing a better future for Israelis and Palestinians by promoting a false narrative that denies the historical and unbroken connection of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.

“I support the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to promote a durable ceasefire that ensures the safety of civilians in Israeli communities where both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel have been terrorized by Hamas rockets, and in the Gaza Strip. No one should have to live under the threat of attack, and Hamas must be held accountable for its war crimes, which include the use of civilian infrastructure for launching its attacks against civilian targets. Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties on both sides of the border as a result.

“I do not support conditioning American aid to Israel, a key ally and a nation with whom we share strategic interests and a desire for peace and security. In fact, conditioning aid would only embolden Hamas and encourage it to continue its disregard for innocent life and destabilizing actions.

“Once Hamas ceases its rocket fire into Israel, we must resume and accelerate discussions with deep urgency about ways to ensure that Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank are treated with respect and dignity – and to create opportunities for hope instead of despair. A ceasefire and an effort to improve the quality of life for Israeli Arabs and for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza ought to be first steps toward a return to focusing on the ultimate goal of a two-state solution.”

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