WASHINGTON (JTA) — Both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed resolutions expressing support for Israel’s "inherent right to act in self-defense."
The identical non-binding resolutions passed Thursday in the Senate and Friday in the House of Representatives.
Initiated in the Senate by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and in the House by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), each resolution "expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism."
By Thursday evening, the Senate resolution had garnered 64 cosponsors.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement praised "the leadership of Senators Gillibrand and Kirk, and the extraordinary show of support by the Senate for Israel’s struggle against terrorist attacks on its citizens."
The resolutions are the first such proposed legislation in the wake of Israeli airstrikes launched Wednesday in retaliation for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip
Unlike statements of support for Israel’s actions from the Obama administration, the resolutions do not call on both sides to exercise restraint or express regret at casualties on both sides.
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, told reporters on Thursday. "There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately in order to allow the situation to de-escalate."
More than 60Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the escalated violence between Israel and Palestinian terrorists. Among the dead Palestinians is a terrorist leader, Ahmed Jabari.
A host of lawmakers have issued statements in support of Israel, and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on Wednesday briefed five senators from both parties — Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
"As a bipartisan group of Senators committed to Israel’s security, we express our solidarity with Israel during this deeply challenging period and denounce the reprehensible and indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against innocent Israeli citizens," the senators said in a joint statement.
AIPAC praised the outpouring of congressional support.
"These statements demonstrate that America continues to firmly stand with Israel and her right to defend herself," it said. "No nation can tolerate constant barrages of rockets against its civilian population."