Krishnamoorthi: ‘We need an immediate, sustained cease-fire’

As international pressure on Israel mounts following the deaths of seven aid workers who were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg says the need for a cease-fire in Gaza is critical.

“We need an immediate, sustained cease-fire right now, with hostages immediately released and massive amounts of humanitarian aid entering Gaza,” he said in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with the Daily Herald Editorial Board. “And I would like to see that immediate halt to hostilities transform into something more durable, leading to a two-state solution.”

Krishnamoorthi said a lasting cease-fire is the first step needed to create the political space for parties to begin discussing a long-term solution to the conflict that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and over 1,000 Israelis since October.

Unless there are talks about an end state, “we’re just going to be in an endless cycle of violence,” the representative said.

“We cannot go through this over and over again, without making a serious attempt to get to a more intermediate and long-term solution,” he said. “That means not only resolution of questions related to Palestinian statehood, that also means recognition of Israel by its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and others. I think the whole ball of wax needs to be addressed at once.”

Cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas remain deadlocked after a round of negotiations in Cairo Sunday, also attended by delegations from Qatar and the United States, did not see any progress.

Krishnamoorthi said the road to a cease-fire includes American pressure on Israel, which the representative said is already happening through the enforcement of arms transfer conditions that require credible assurances the arms would be used in accordance with international law, and that humanitarian assistance be allowed to flow in greater quantities.

“Everybody's going to be looking at that very closely, including the Israelis, who know that that is a very important determination. I suspect that will also help to improve their behavior,” he said. “Let me just go to the flip side: Hamas has to be under tremendous pressure as well, by the Qataris and Egyptians. We can't have a one-sided situation. They have to release the hostages and they've got to cease fire.”

Krishnamoorthi’s remarks come as the House looks to address a $93.5 billion foreign aid package that’s been stalled on Capitol Hill for months following the Senate’s passage of emergency spending legislation in mid-February.

To advance the package — which bundles a myriad items including $60 billion in support for Ukraine, $14.1 billion in military operational support for Israel, and $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza — Krishnamoorthi floated the prospect of separating the issues and putting them up for individual votes.

“My impression is I think (President Joe Biden) will gladly accept all of them being voted upon separately, especially if we believe that they will get favorable consideration, which I think they will. I think each of them will come in a majority,” he said. “But I think the politics are — especially within the Republican caucus — that they want to be able to vote on Ukraine separately from any other issue, because there are so many dissenting voices. ... That's my read on the situation.”

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