Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Email from Congressman Sarbanes - Dec 19, 2023

Letterhead from Congressional email

December 19, 2023

Dear Mr. Molyett:

     Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to military assistance for Israel. I appreciate hearing from you about this important matter and welcome the opportunity to respond.

     As you know, on October 7, 2023, Hamas committed horrifying acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. Israel responded with retaliatory attacks in the Gaza Strip. President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken continue to hold high level talks to ensure respect for the rules of war in protecting civilian life, providing humanitarian aid to civilians in need in Gaza, establishing a humanitarian corridor for Palestinians and securing the release of hostages. 

     I would be less than frank if I did not share that I have regularly supported funding for Israel to defend itself against the threat of terrorism and believe we should continue to support the Iron Dome and other efforts to protect Israeli citizens. However, I opposed H.R. 6126, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, in part because it did not include any humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians – which I also believe to be critically needed. Unfortunately, this aid package passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 226-196 on November 2, 2023. I remain hopeful that we will be able to achieve a strong bipartisan path forward on an aid package that supports both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

     As a strong advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would allow both communities a peaceful and secure future, I share your concerns regarding the impact of this conflict. I continue to strongly believe that the path to peace and security among Israelis and Palestinians must come from concrete and specific confidence-building measures, not from aggression or terror.

     On October 20, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Biden in support of the Administration’s efforts to ensure that food, water and medicine are made available to civilians in Gaza, as well as their ongoing efforts to facilitate safe zones for civilians seeking refuge. The letter also expressed support for the Administrations leadership in fostering a sustainable future for Palestinians and Israelis at the conclusion of this conflict.

     I was also supportive of the Biden Administrations decision in March 2021 to restore $235 million in economic and humanitarian aid to Palestinians, which had previously been cut under the Trump Administration. I had urged President Trump to unfreeze funding for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides essential funding for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The bipartisan budget bill for Fiscal Year 2023 provided $75 million in additional funding for UNRWA to address rising food costs for vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. I voted in favor of this legislation when it passed the House of Representatives before being signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022. Although I am not a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over these issues, I will keep your views in mind when voting on relevant legislation in the full House of Representatives.

     Again, I appreciate hearing your views on this matter. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.


John Sarbanes

Member of Congress

Pdf Version: Email from Congressman Sarbanes