J Street Welcomes Senators’ Important Questions to Biden on Israel-Hamas War, Supplemental Military Assistance

November 8, 2023

J Street welcomes a critically important new letter to President Biden from the majority of the Senate Democratic caucus, which asks vital and timely questions about Israel’s ongoing military operations inside Gaza, and seeks information about the goals and efficacy of supplemental military assistance that the administration has requested to assist Israel.

26 senators, led by Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Chris Murphy, Brian Schatz, and Jack Reed, signed the new letter to the President. They underscore that as Israel continues its military efforts to defend itself from Hamas’ attacks and hold the terror group accountable, the country’s leaders should learn from the mistakes made by the US in our own war on terror – and abide by the laws of war, including by protecting civilians.

As the senators review the Biden Administration’s supplemental request for military assistance to Israel and vital humanitarian assistance, they ask for the administration to provide an assessment on a range of key issues, including:

  • The viability of Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, and whether it prioritizes the release of hostages
  • Whether there is an achievable plan for governing Gaza when the Israeli military operation ends
  • Whether the Israeli government supports the conditions necessary to ultimately achieve a two-state solution
  • What specific mechanisms the US has in place to ensure that Israeli military operations conducted inside Gaza are carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, and to ensure that any US-provided equipment is used in a manner consistent with US law
  • Whether Israel’s military rules of engagement, particularly regarding mitigation of civilian casualties, align with US policy and practice
  • How our assistance will advance our efforts to engage with Israel, Egypt, and the broader international community to address the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

The letter also asks the administration to “obtain public assurances from Prime Minister Netanyahu that his coalition government will immediately stop the escalating extremist settler violence directed against unprotected Palestinians there, as well as assurances from President Abbas that his government take steps to quell any violence against Israelis.”

“As Congress weighs the administration’s supplemental aid request, it’s critical that they ask key questions about the Israeli government’s strategy and tactics as it confronts Hamas in Gaza,” said J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami. “It’s vital for the Biden Administration to detail exactly how they are working to enhance Israel’s security, uphold international law, free the hostages, support the protection of innocent civilians, and ensure that there is a realistic exit strategy and long-term vision for a more secure and peaceful post-war future.”

J Street has made clear that as the US prepares to provide Israel with a massive new package of military assistance, the Biden Administration should insist that Israeli authorities acknowledge, respect and adhere to the asks and guardrails set by the US government for its conduct in Gaza and the West Bank, and support post-war moves toward lasting conflict resolution.