Press Release

Welch Calls for Indefinite Ceasefire

Nov 28, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today issued the following statement:

“The temporary ceasefire that began last Friday was the first glimmer of hope since Hamas savagely attacked Israel on October 7th, brutally massacring at least 1,200 Israelis, including women and children, and taking 240 hostages.

“The impact of the conflict in the Middle East has reverberated across the world, and we’ve seen the effects here at home in the form of Islamophobia and antisemitism. In Chicago, a six-year-old Muslim boy was murdered by his landlord. Antisemitism has spiked across college campuses. And this weekend in my home state of Vermont, three Palestinian-American students were senselessly shot by a stranger as they walked to a family gathering. This cycle of fear, intimidation, and violence must end.

“Israel had the right to counter-attack Hamas in Gaza. But Palestinians who had nothing to do with the crimes of October 7th have suffered grievously. The magnitude of the counter-attack has killed an estimated 14,800 Palestinians in Gaza, almost half women and children, and has injured tens of thousands more. The entire Palestinian population of Gaza is in the midst of a massive humanitarian catastrophe. Over 1.5 million people are homeless.

“So far, the ceasefire has been largely successful. Thanks to the active engagement of Qatar and Egypt, and the personal involvement of President Biden and the Netanyahu government, hostages have been released and the killing has stopped.

“But the ceasefire is scheduled to expire this week. That would be a grave mistake.

“I fully support Israel’s right to pursue those who ordered and carried out the attacks of October 7th. But Israel must not do so in a way that leads to massive civilian casualties and the large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. This will only incite more enemies against Israel and the U.S.

“For this reason, the ceasefire must be extended indefinitely.

“The ceasefire must be extended first and foremost to stop the bombing and prevent further loss of civilian life. The United States cannot condone a resumption of the bombing when it causes death and injury to so many civilians.

“The ceasefire must be extended to ensure access to humanitarian relief to those who have been displaced, most of whom have no homes to return to. The Palestinian people, like all people, need access to clean water, food, medical care, and electricity.

“The ceasefire must be extended to continue negotiations to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

“And the ceasefire must be extended to begin a process for giving practical meaning to the two-state solution, which has been given lip service by U.S. Administrations and has been outright rejected by the Netanyahu government.

“Israel’s enemy is Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

“The United States must lead, in partnership with other nations and leaders that share this vision, a reinvigorated and sustained multinational effort to bring about a viable, independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel. It’s a goal the Netanyahu government has undermined and opposed.

“Throughout the years, the United States has provided tens of billions of dollars in aid to the Netanyahu government, in effect financing a government that consistently implements policies to make impossible a two-state solution that multiple U.S. Administrations, Republican and Democratic, have endorsed.

“The President has asked Congress to provide more than $14 billion for Israel to pursue its war plan against Hamas. The manner in which any such aid is provided must be debated. I will push for policies that ensure taxpayer dollars are only used in ways that comply with international humanitarian law.

“President Biden has established his support for Israel as America’s close ally and has upheld its right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. I have long joined in that support. I always will. But the Netanyahu government, President Biden, and the Congress must also actively support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. That means sparing innocent Palestinians in Israel’s pursuit of Hamas, the perpetrators of the October 7th massacre, and renewing energetic efforts to create two states, side by side, peaceful and secure.”