Democratic primary candidates Garcia and Lopez differ on potential cease-fire in Gaza

Progressive 4th District U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Democratic primary challenger Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez hold disparate views on a potential cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Garcia, seeking his fourth term in Congress, and Lopez, the 15th Ward alderman since 2015, were on opposite ends of federal and local resolutions calling for a cease-fire following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and Israel retaliation.

Garcia co-sponsored an Oct. 16 resolution calling on President Joe Biden to facilitate a cease-fire and for humanitarian assistance to be allowed to enter Gaza.

“I called for a cease-fire … because I had a gut sense that the government of the prime minster, (Benjamin) Netanyahu, would react in the manner that they have,” Garcia said in a recent interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board. “While Hamas’ attacks can never be justified — they were cruel and inhumane and committed atrocities — I believe, as President Biden has indicated, that the response was over the top and there is a needless killing that continues of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

Garcia said he supports the release of all hostages, humanitarian aid, and continued diplomatic efforts leading to a cessation of hostilities — all in hopes of a long-term, two-state solution.

But he said Israeli settlements in the West Bank that have displaced Palestinians are “threats to peace.”

“And I think it is a part of what’s playing out in the current conflict in Gaza,” Garcia said.

Lopez voted against the Jan. 31 cease-fire resolution in the Chicago City Council in which Mayor Brandon Johnson cast the tiebreaking vote in favor.

“Many people say that we should call for a cease-fire, stop supporting Israel, and then we can work out the details later, but I think that puts the cart before the horse,” Lopez told the Daily Herald. “I think if we were to have a return of all hostages, then we could advocate for cease-fire, then we could advocate for a drawdown on the military support. But not until those hostages or the remains of those who have died while in captivity are returned to their families.”

Hamas, Lopez said, hasn’t shown any interest in ending the hostilities.

“So I think that if the aggressor is not willing to call for a cease-fire, how do you force the group defending itself to take a cease-fire?” Lopez said.

The 4th District, based on Chicago’s Southwest Side, was redrawn and extends to parts of Cook and DuPage counties, including portions of Hinsdale, Oak Brook and Elmhurst. No Republican is on the March 19 primary ballot.

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