The House of Representatives moved to authorize an aid package for Israel as the Biden administration faces mounting pressure to call on Israel to halt its bombardment of Gaza.
On Thursday, the House approved $14.5 billion in military aid for Israel. Recently elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), while touting the aid package that he backed, took a hawkish position against what he claimed were unnecessary calls for a cessation of hostilities.
“And now, as Israel begins its next phase of its war, it’s been kind of disturbing to us. I’ve heard Democrats suggest there needs to be a ceasefire. Let me be clear. There was a ceasefire. It was before October 7th, and Hamas broke it. … Israel doesn’t need a ceasefire. It needs its allies to cease with the politics and deliver support now. And that’s what we’re doing,” Johnson said.
The aid package, Johnson said, “provides Israel the aid it needs to defend itself, free its hostages, and eradicate Hamas, which is a mission that must be accomplished.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, war broke out between Israel and Hamas in Gaza after the latter launched terrorist attacks in southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians. Hamas fighters also abducted more than 200 people and transported them to the Gaza Strip.
But even as House Republicans publicly rejected any call for a ceasefire, the Associated Press is reporting that the Biden administration has been pushing Israel for at least a “humanitarian pause” in the bombardment and widening ground assault on Gaza so that aid groups could get medicine and fuel to the civilians caught in the narrow strip of land that is now a warzone. About 1.5 million Gazans have been displaced from their homes, and UN officials in Gaza say that the average person there is surviving on two pieces of bread a day, and water is increasingly scarce.
According to the AP, the need for a break in the fighting was relayed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his third trip to Israel since the war began. However, Netanyahu so far remains unconvinced, insisting that his military was “going … full steam ahead” until the 240 or so hostages held by Hamas are freed.
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he thinks there needs to be “a pause” in the fighting after a protester demanded he call for a ceasefire during a campaign event in Minneapolis. Biden added, “A pause means give time to get the prisoners out.”
“I’m the guy that convinced [Netanyahu] to call for a ceasefire to let the prisoners out. I’m the guy that talked to [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi] to convince him to open the door,” Biden added, alluding to the humanitarian aid that entered Gaza through the border with Egypt on Thursday, CBS News Texas reported.
The House bill is headed to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already said that the “stunningly unserious” proposal will not be passed by the upper chamber, Fox 4 KDFW reported. The House bill falls short of the $106 billion the Biden administration wanted approved to fund both Israel’s war and Ukraine’s war against Russia as well as confront other geostrategic foes like China.