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Sewell supports extension of bilateral pause in Israel-Palestine war

The letter calls on President Joe Biden to use his power to broker a bilateral ceasefire

Congresswoman Terri Sewell during a committee hearing. Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, has signed onto a letter calling for a bilateral ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine war.

Rep. Troy Carter, D-LA led the letter, and it calls on President Joe Biden to use his power to broker a bilateral ceasefire as Israel continues its offensive in Gaza. Along with Sewell, 10 other Democratic House members also signed onto the letter. 

Sewell’s communication director, Christopher Kosteva, talked to APR and clarified Sewell’s position. According to Kosteva, Sewell believes in a bilateral pause that would lead to a bilateral ceasefire. The congresswoman does not believe in a unilateral ceasefire on the part of Israel or calls for Israel to stop fighting Hamas without a bilateral deal. 

Sewell supports Israel’s “right to self-defense” against Hamas, Kosteva stated. Sewell is the first, and only, Alabama congressperson to publicly support a call for a pause or potential ceasefire of any kind. 

“This pause in violence is set to expire tomorrow, and it is our fervent hope that negotiations can continue and extend the current pause in hostilities and continue the release of those held hostage by Hamas,” the letter to Biden read. “We urge you to use your immense influence and the full power of your office to continue negotiations and extend the bilateral pause beyond tomorrow so that both sides can build towards a bilateral ceasefire and, ultimately, a two-state solution.”

On Nov. 23 a temporary ceasefire was agreed to that halted the bombing and fighting so that a hostage exchange could take place between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire was extended until two days ago as negotiations fell apart and Israel has resumed its bombing campaign. 

Despite the Biden administration claiming to be using its power behind the scenes to fuel an extended pause in fighting and stress civilian casualties, they continue to supply Israel with more arms and weapons.

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On Oct. 7, the militant wing of Hamas launched an attack on Israel that killed hundreds of civilians including women and children. The approximate death toll is around 1,200 and Hamas has been accused of committing war crimes during the attack. 

Since Israel’s indiscriminate bombing campaign began in Gaza over 15,200 Palestinian people have been killed including 6,150 children. Hospitals, schools, refugee camps and ambulances have been deliberately targeted with airstrikes by Israel. Israel has been accused by human rights organizations of committing collective punishment, a war crime.

WVTM reported, a few days prior to Sewell signing onto the letter, that students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham were calling for the congresswoman to support a permanent ceasefire during a temporary pause in fighting. Included in the article is a Palestinian student, Rozana Kafineh, who said she was heartbroken to see her country go through the war. 

“A temporary [ceasefire is not enough],” Abdo Mutlaq told WVTM. “You can pause a video game. You can pause the video, but you can’t pause genocide.”

The full letter can be read here: 

“Dear President Biden,

Thank you for all the work you’ve done to bring a humanitarian pause and bring about the return of innocent hostages. Your Administration has met this incredibly complex multifaceted conflict with the highest level of diplomacy and leadership in the pursuit of peace.

This pause in violence is set to expire tomorrow, and it is our fervent hope that negotiations can continue and extend the current pause in hostilities and continue the release of those held hostage by Hamas. We urge you to use your immense influence and the full power of your office to continue negotiations and extend the bilateral pause beyond tomorrow so that both sides can build towards a bilateral ceasefire and, ultimately, a two-state solution.

Recognizing the ongoing conflict, we acknowledge the devastating impact these atrocities have had on innocent lives. We stand united to promote peace, stability, and justice for all people. Too many innocent lives have been lost already. The bloodshed must end. We are committed to standing steadfast with your Administration in calling for an extension of this pause and building on these negotiations toward a permanent two-state solution.

We acknowledge that a unilateral ceasefire is impossible. One side of a conflict cannot create peace on their own. It is essential that this ceasefire be bilateral. Both sides must come to the table in agreement; only then can we lay the groundwork to create a true two-state solution.

By rejecting hate, terrorism, prioritizing the protection of innocent lives, providing humanitarian assistance and engaging in meaningful dialogue, we can lay the groundwork for a better future for all people in the region. We call upon all parties involved to demonstrate the humanity, courage, empathy, and commitment necessary to achieve a comprehensive and sustained peace in the region.

Again, we thank you for everything that you have done to push towards peace and know that is your ultimate goal. A release of all hostages and an immediate bilateral ceasefire will not only stop the bloodshed but ultimately lead us to peace in the region.”

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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