House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that leading House Democrats are currently drafting a non-binding congressional resolution to support Israel's Gaza incursion. The resolution, being drafted by the office of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), will offer tacit support for Israel and look into conditions for peace without explicitly demanding a ceasefire.
The report quotes Hoyer:
"Certainly it would not demand a cease-fire," Hoyer said. "It would speak to the conditions that would justify a cease-fire. A cease-fire is not a just cease-fire when it's just Israel" holding fire.
These House Democrats' stance is notably aligned with the Bush administration's current position towards the conflict. The "one-sided ceasefire" point has become a mantra for Bush and Secretary of State Rice since Israel's air strikes began on December 27th. And, as Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu reports here, it has also become the position of the European Union, under the nascent leadership of the Czech Republic.
As Gedalyahu reports:
"At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," said Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik.
While the U.S. is using diplomatic efforts to halt violence and is concerned with the economic situation of Gaza residents, President Bush stated, "Another one-way ceasefire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice -- there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end."
Gedalyahu also points out that this position conflicts with that of the EU's former leadership, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as with much of the Arab world. It is not yet clear if there will be any strong congressional opposition to the Democratic resolution. Though President-elect Barack Obama has kept himself at arm's-length from the conflict thus far, he has just spoken out against civilian casualties. However, he is also often quoted from his visit to the assailed Israeli city Sderot as sharing the House Dems position. Passage of the House resolution would be the first formal Congressional response to the conflict.