Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Monday became the second senator to call for a ceasefire in Gaza amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas militants.
“I call for a ceasefire – a cessation of hostilities on both sides,” Merkley posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “To endure, the ceasefire and subsequent negotiations must achieve other essential objectives, including the release of all hostages and a massive influx of humanitarian aid. »
Merkley’s call comes after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, became the first senator to support stopping the fighting earlier this month in an interview on CNN.
Durbin, however, stipulated that this must begin with the release of all hostages taken by Hamas during its first October 7 surprise attack on Israel. He added that “an effort should be made to start a conversation between Israelis and Palestinians.”
In a statement released Monday, Merkley condemned the fighting and reiterated that he had previously called for humanitarian pauses to “facilitate negotiations for the release of the hostages.”
The Oregon Democrat echoed Durbin’s call for Hamas to release the hostages unconditionally and lay down their arms so that a ceasefire can be established. It is estimated that more than 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas.
The senator also called on Israel to “end its shelling and shelling and also address the immediate humanitarian challenge” in Gaza. He added that Israel should allow Palestinians to return to their homes in the region and end violence against Palestinian villagers.
Most importantly, he added, the Israeli and Palestinian people must find leaders willing to work together.
“After witnessing the accelerating death toll, many Americans, including thousands of Oregonians, raised their voices to say that more must be done to end the carnage,” it said. Merkley’s press release. “I agree. That’s why I’m calling for a ceasefire today.
Durbin and Merkley using the term “ceasefire” is notable for its departure from the language used by both Senate leaders and President Biden.
Merkley had previously said the Israeli counteroffensive was “deeply concerning” to the Palestinian people and had pushed to restore Gaza’s basic needs, but had not made any arguments calling on Israel to end the war.
A group of Democratic senators on Monday urged Biden to work with Israel to try to convince the country to open its border to humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a cease-fire.
In the House, a growing coalition of Democrats called on the White House to work toward an immediate truce.
It has been more than a month since the first Hamas attack that left 1,200 Israelis dead. At least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported.
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