While President Joe Biden
has so far refused to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, at least two groups of senators issued statements calling for a temporary halt to the violence on Sunday.
Dozens of Senate Democrats
, led by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip
on Sunday night “to prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict,” joining long-vocal lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) and the second-most senior Democrat, Dick Durbin (Ill.).
Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) were also part of the coalition, which issued a separate bipartisan statement calling for the same thing shortly after.
“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.” pic.twitter.com/3KcjUfQw24— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 17, 2021
“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,” the senators said in a joint statement. They are the chairman and ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.
The statements come as the Biden administration
reportedly blocks the United Nations
Security Council from calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas, according to two diplomats quoted by the Times of Israel, making Sunday the third time in a week that the administration has blocked a joint statement from the council demanding an end to civilian casualties.
During an open security council meeting on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that the country is “working tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try and bring an end to this conflict.” When asked after the meeting if the US intended to support the joint statement being drafted, an official at the US mission told the Times of Israel that “right now we are focused on the intensive diplomacy.”
Breaking: The US is blocking a joint Security Council statement calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas for the third time in a week, two diplomats involved tell @TimesofIsrael (1/6)— Jacob Magid (@JacobMagid) May 17, 2021
Following the Israeli army's daily barrage of attacks on Palestinian civilians and a tower housing
offices of Al Jazeera
and The Associated Press
, Biden has remained staunchly and vocally supportive of Israel, despite growing opposition from within his party, advocacy organizations, and the media.
On Saturday, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
that he strongly supports Israel's "right to defend itself," a phrase the president has used repeatedly on behalf of Israeli forces but not on behalf of Palestinians
. In an address this weekend, Netanyahu made it clear that he has no intention of engaging in a ceasefire.
On Sunday, Israel launched its deadliest single attack in nearly a week of violence, flattening three buildings in Gaza City
and killing at least 42 Palestinian civilians, many of whom were children
. Since the escalation began, Hamas rockets fired from settlements have killed eight Israelis, including one child.