Senate backs Israel’s goals in Gaza conflict


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate unanimously supported Israel’s goals in its conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a posture that distances the body from President Obama’s call for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire.

In a rare joint action, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader, initiated the resolution passed Tuesday evening by unanimous consent.

The resolution “supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ unrelenting and indiscriminate rocket assault into Israel and Israel’s right to destroy Hamas’ elaborate tunnel system into Israel’s territory.”

That aligns with the goals set forth Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel would stay in Gaza until the tunnels reaching into its territory are destroyed, a day after Obama had phoned him and asked him to agree to an “immediate, unconditional, humanitarian cease-fire.”

The resolution also supported U.S. efforts to achieve a “durable cease-fire agreement that immediately ends Hamas’s rocket assault and leads to the demilitarization of Gaza;” top Obama staffers have also said they would like to see Gaza demilitarized as part of a more comprehensive agreement.

The resolution also condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution last week calling for an inquiry into the conduct of the conflict.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the passage of the non-binding resolution.

“While launching over 2,500 rockets against Israeli citizens, Hamas had also planned to use an extensive network of terror tunnels that extended into Israeli territory to launch mass casualty attacks and kidnap Israelis,” AIPAC said in a statement. “Israeli forces are currently dismantling the terrorist infrastructure to prevent future attacks.”

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