Nancy Pelosi calls for cease-fire in Israel-Palestinian conflict, raising pressure on Biden

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Tuesday for a cease-fire in the Middle East, ratcheting up pressure on the Biden administration to intervene more forcefully to help end the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Calling Israel “our friend and ally,” Pelosi said it is in the U.S. national security interest to support security in Israel.

“Hamas exploited a volatile situation to initiate hostilities against Israel, launching more than 3,000 rockets, and as always, Israel has a right to defend herself,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“Now, after more than a week of hostilities, it has become even more apparent that a cease-fire is necessary,” she said. “There must be a serious effort on the part of both parties to end the violence and respect the rights of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

Biden expressed his support for a cease-fire on Monday in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but did not call specifically for an end to the violence between Israel and Hamas.

Earlier Monday, 29 Democratic and independent senators issued a joint statement calling for an immediate a cease-fire.

“To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate cease-fire,” said the group led by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga.

A fireball and smoke billow up into the air during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City early on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The strike targeted the Ansar compound, which is linked to the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Mohammed Abed, AFP via Getty Images)

The calls for a cease-fire came as the deadly tensions entered their second week.

A rocket launched from Gaza killed two Thai workers in southern Israel on Tuesday, police said, hours after Israeli airstrikes toppled a six-story building in the Palestinian territory that housed bookstores and educational centers. With the war showing no sign of abating, Palestinians in the region staged a general strike in a rare collective action against Israel’s policies.

Violence erupted at protests in the occupied West Bank, including in the city of Ramallah. Hundreds of Palestinians burned tires and hurled stones at an Israeli military checkpoint. Troops fired tear gas canisters at the crowd, and protesters picked up some of them and threw them back.

One protester was killed and more than 70 wounded – including 16 by live fire – in clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Israeli army said two soldiers were wounded by gunshots to the leg.

The general strike was an uncommon show of unity among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of its population, and those in the territories Israel seized in 1967 that the Palestinians have long sought for a future state. It threatened to further widen the conflict after a spasm of communal violence in Israel and protests across the West Bank last week.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

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