US Congress signs off on Gaza aggression as global outrage grows

The US Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution Nov. 8 voicing strong support for Israel’s Gaza offensive, while urging a ceasefire that would prevent Hamas from launching any more rockets into Israel. The House followed up the next day with a similar resolution, expressing “unwavering” support for Israel’s right to “self-defense” against “unceasing aggression” by Hamas. It said the civilian lives must be protected to the maximum extent possible, and expressed condolences to Palestinian and Israeli victims and their families. But the text “lay[s] blame both for the breaking of the ‘calm’ and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas.”

“When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the state of Israel, by reaffirming Israel’s inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said before the vote. “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?” Co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said before the vote: “The Israelis…are responding exactly the same way we would.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) accused the United Nations of bias against Israel. “It passed a resolution that did not even mention rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, did not even mention Hamas and its war crimes, and called for an immediate cease-fire, not a sustainable cease-fire,” she said. (ReformDem blog, Jan. 10; VOA, Jan. 9; Reuters, Jan. 8)

Actually, the text of the resolution calls for a “durable ceasefire” (synonymous with “sustainable”) and “Condemns all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.” (Ha’aretz, Jan. 9)

Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) was among a small number in the House who didn’t support the resolution, joining 22 lawmakers in voting “present” on the resolution; 390 voted for and five against it. “What we ought to be calling for is an immediate cease-fire,” Farr said. “I feel like I’m a strong supporter of Israel, but I’m not a cheerleader under every circumstance.” (Santa Cruz Sentinel, Jan. 10)

Meanwhile, Mauritania, one of three Arab countries that maintains full diplomatic relations with Israel, has recalled its ambassador in protest of the Gaza aggression. Students in Mauritania have been protesting daily against the operation.

Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador and embassy personnel Jan. 6, hours after President Hugo Chávez called Israel’s Gaza offensive a “holocaust.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry is considering whether to respond in kind. (JTA, Jan. 7)

In Turkey, one of Israel’s closest partners in the Muslim world, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Gaza offensive “a dark stain on human history.” (NYT, Jan. 11)

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, is calling for an investigation into what she believes to be war crimes committed by Israeli forces. She said the the attack on a safe house filled with civilians especially bore “all the elements of war crimes.” (Raw Story, Jan. 10)

See our last post on Gaza.

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