Progressives stand firm on the need for a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza, even following a hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas that will temporarily stop the battle for four to five days. For weeks, these lawmakers have criticized the administration’s policies, urging President Joe Biden to demand a cease-fire and place conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel. Biden and his aides, who assert that Israel must combat Hamas in Gaza, supported the hostage deal as the only means to enhance the situation. They argued that a pause in the fighting would enable the safe return of hostages and the provision of life-saving aid for Palestinians.
Despite securing the historic diplomatic accords brokered toward the end of the 50-day conflict, progressives continue to seek support from Biden to move in a direction that matches their stance. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) has expressed dissatisfaction with the limited pause in hostilities and underlined the impact on Palestinians in Gaza. She is one of two dozen lawmakers who have called for an immediate cease-fire to prevent further loss of life.
The term “cease-fire” captures the ongoing desire to end the fighting permanently, in contrast to the Biden administration’s support for a “pause,” a temporary cessation of hostilities. In the context of the Israel-Hamas war, the distinction is political, intended to differentiate between those advocating for a lasting peace and those prioritizing humanitarian assistance and hostage release.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) highlighted the necessity for an immediate end to bombings and emphasized the need for an extensive humanitarian pause. He described the hostage deal as an encouraging initial step toward fostering better Israeli-Palestinian relations.
The conflict with the left wing of the Democratic Party is a challenge for President Biden, who is focused on uniting Democrats for next year’s election and preventing the conflict from spreading across the Middle East. Congressional Democrats are discussing potential conditions for future military aid to Israel, complicating Biden’s goals. There are also increasing discussions regarding the possibility of bridging the divide between progressive and mainstream Democrats on the issue of cease-fire.
Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) attributed the temporary pause to diplomatic negotiation and collective advocacy, emphasizing the need to continue pushing for a permanent cease-fire to save lives, secure the release of all hostages, and end the horrific violence. The progressive PAC, Justice Democrats, underscored that effective diplomacy was enabled by significant public demand for a permanent cease-fire.
While some Democrats have expressed support for the agreement, others have remained skeptical of President Biden’s handling of the situation and have continued to advocate for more concrete measures to end the conflict. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) particularly emphasized the need to convert the temporary cease-fire into an enduring one, highlighting the demand for the release of hostages, the cessation of Hamas control over Gaza, and the return of Palestinians to their homes, among other unresolved issues.
The deal to release hostages, allow humanitarian aid, and temporarily halt the violence in the conflict has received support from some Democrats, who recognize it as a significant step forward. Although the agreement has helped mitigate calls for an immediate cease-fire, it is clear that the larger issue at hand demands more comprehensive solutions.