US Indian Lawmakers Call For Ceasefire, 'Legitimate' Alternative In Gaza


(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Indian American lawmakers have been consistently calling cessation of hostilities, extended truce for smooth flow of aid, swift release of hostages, removal of Hamas and a lasting solution to the Israel-Hamas war, which entered its 56th day on Saturday.

At least 178 Palestinians were killed across Gaza after Israel's army resumed its attacks on Friday, following a week-long humanitarian truce made possible with the efforts of Qatar.

Since the hostilities erupted on October 7, over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in the besieged enclave, including 6,150 children and more than 4,000 women, making it the deadliest war for Gaza till date. The count does not include those still missing or buried under the rubble.

AS THE ATTACK BEGAN...

When Hamas launched the massive attack on southern Israel on October 7, the Indian-origin US Congressmen stood firmly with Israel condemning and calling the surprise attack "inhuman" and "appalling".

Congressman Shri Thanedar called for the elimination of Palestinian militant group Hamas "from the face of the earth", saying that they are just "barbaric terrorists".

"I condemn these violent attacks against the Jewish people and the state of Israel. The calculated aggression targeting innocent civilians is heartbreaking and cannot be tolerated. America stands firmly with Israel," Thanedar said.

He also urged the Congress to rally behind Israel until the threat is addressed and security is restored.

Congressman Ro Khanna called the crimes carried out by Hamas against Israeli women and children "inhuman" and "appalling".

"My heart breaks for the victims, and I stand in solidarity with the people of Israel at this dark moment," Khanna wrote on X.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said that the images coming out of Israel after unprovoked attacks by Hamas has left him "horrified.

"The US unequivocally stands with the people of Israel against this gruesome terror attack, and strongly supports its right to defend itself,” he said.

In their condemnation of the attacks, the lawmakers were joined by Indian-American Republican presidential-hopefuls Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy with the former South Carolina Governor saying that "an attack on Israel is an attack on America".

Ramaswamy said that the US should use the attacks in Israel as a wake-up call and strengthen its borders.

A CALL FOR PAUSE...

As the war entered its 28th day, leaving thousands dead, wounded and lakhs displaced with many struggling for food, water and medicine supplies, Congressman Ami Bera shared a poignant message calling for an immediate pause on military operations.

Bera said that while he "firmly believes" that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself, so do "innocent Palestinians who have a right to a life of peace and dignity".

"We need an immediate pause in order to get needed humanitarian aid, food, water and medicine to struggling civilians; then we need to find a different path forward," Bera said, after speaking to the Palestinians and Jews in his constituency.

The Congressman said he hoped to see Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace, which can only happen if innocent Israelis and Palestinians are not killed.

He also led a team of 89 colleagues in demanding the US Congress to immediately pass the President's request for Fiscal Year 2024 emergency supplemental funding.

This included aid for the US Agency for International Development's International Disaster Assistance account to meet rising humanitarian needs around the world including those related to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

THE WELCOME TRUCE...

The lawmakers hailed a temporary ceasefire, which came into effect on November 24 after nearly seven weeks of intense fighting.

The commencement of the truce saw the release of 86 Israelis, 24 foreign nationals and 240 Palestinian prisoners.

Thanedar said the recently announced temporary pause offers a glimmer of hope in the "complex landscape" of the Israel-Hamas war.

"The path to peace remains challenging, but this temporary cessation of hostilities represents possibility and hope. It is my sincere desire that the conflict ends soon with the removal of Hamas, and we are able to move forward to a place of stable coexistence," he said in a statement.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said that the temporary cessation of hostilities is a "much-needed signal of progress and an important step towards safety and security for all civilians".

The lawmakers hoped that the agreement will allow for much-needed food, water, fuel, and other humanitarian aid to enter strife-torn Gaza.

Bera hoped that President Joe Biden's administration would be able to leverage the momentary pause to advance negotiations towards a more promising future for the Israelis and the Palestinians.

THE WAY OUT...

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining US interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, have hurt the chances of a peace deal.

Jayapal called for building an international coalition that could eradicate Hamas and allow new legitimate leadership to emerge for the true governance of Palestinians.

The Biden administration has supported a two-state solution but instead of restarting negotiations, it has promoted Israeli-Arab normalisation and resumed aid for Palestinians, the CFR said.

Bera said his commitment to advocating for a two-state solution remains unwavering, where Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace.

"It may seem like an impossible dream, but the alternatives are simply untenable," he said.

While pushing for a two-state solution, Ro Khanna called for a "full ceasefire" instead of a temporary pause, stating that Israel has significantly 'diminished' Hamas' military prowess to carry out another October 7-like attack.

According to the New York Times, in theory, this would provide the Palestinians a state while giving Israel security and preserving its Jewish majority (allowing the nation to stay democratic and Jewish).

(Meenakshi Iyer can be reached at ...)

--IANS

mi/ksk

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