House Affirms Support for Israel 'As It Defends Itself Against Unprovoked Rocket Attacks'
The House passed a bipartisan resolution by unanimous consent today to support Israel "as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization."
Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) introduced the resolution two days ago, and it was fast-tracked to the floor with more than 140 co-sponsors.
“I applaud the passage of this bipartisan resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself against violence," said Israel, who is also chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It demonstrates the strong and unwavering partnership between the U.S. and the State of Israel and sends a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that acts of terror against Israel will not be tolerated.”
Cole said the House "reinforced its support of our friends in Israel during times of great tension and unrest in the region."
"Over the last several weeks, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, putting the lives of our Israeli friends in grave danger. As Israel combats these acts of terror, I am pleased that this resolution shows that America stands behind our friends," he said. "I am also very proud that the Iron Dome, a joint Israeli-American project that intercepts missiles, has helped in the fight against terror and protected millions of lives. During these times of unrest, this technology is proving indispensable.”
The Iron Dome battery has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress since they went into action in 2011.
The resolution "reaffirms [House] support for Israel's right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel, condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel, and calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel."
It included an amendment from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noting that Iran is an enabler of Hamas.
“Hamas and their supporters remain committed to armed struggle against Israel's right to exist--as they deliberately target Israeli population centers using many weapons provided by Iran," Royce said. "With these threats arrayed against Israel, we will continue stand with the Israeli people."
A similar resolution has been introduced in the upper chamber by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and is expected to come to the floor for a vote next week.
When asked at today's briefing if there is anything more the U.S. can do to stop the violence, White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Air Force One yesterday.
"The president, in that telephone call, also did something that we have done several times publicly, which is reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself against these attacks," Earnest said. "That said, we also condemn the attacks this morning that were launched from Lebanon."
"In the course of that telephone call, the president also expressed his concern about the risks associated with further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides in this dispute to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm," he added.
"It is evident that civilians have been killed, including children; that's tragic and we offer our condolences to the families."