WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a non-binding resolution in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which had 78 bipartisan sponsors, passed late Thursday by unanimous consent, a week after it was introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
A similar resolution passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 11. The measure introduced by Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) had more than 140 co-sponsors.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backed both resolutions, praised the Senate for its passage.
“Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to defend its citizens against hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza by Islamist terrorists,” AIPAC said in a statement, referring to the air strikes launched by Israel July 8 in response to an intensification of rocket fire from Gaza.
“While Israel accepted a cease-fire plan offered by the Egyptian government, Hamas rejected it and continues to send rockets into the Jewish state,” AIPAC said.
The resolution “reaffirms its support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel,” “calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel” and “calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas andcondemn the attacks on Israel.” Abbas had entered into unity talks with Hamas prior to the current outbreak.
Separately, six Democrats in the House wrote President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging them to bring about a cease-fire and return the parties to peace talks, which collapsed in April.
“Ground troops, air strikes, and rockets do not lead to permanent peace in the Middle East,” said the July 17 letter, first reported by Al-Monitor and signed by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).
“The United States government, together with international partners, must redouble our efforts to urge all parties to avoid further loss of life on both sides by coming to a cease-fire.”