U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean calls for ceasefire in Gaza after her recent trip to Israel and West Bank

The Montgomery County congresswoman, who recently returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “dishonesty.”

Madeleine Dean

File - Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., listens during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 14, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is calling for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza and the return of hostages following her recent trip to Israel and the West Bank.

Dean, a Democrat who represents most of Montgomery County, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “dishonesty” and “broken promises” in a lengthy statement released on Wednesday.

“Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself, its sovereignty, and its citizens — but what is happening is beyond self-defense and is unacceptable to me,” Dean said.

Dean first visited Israel in November in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 people and resulted in 240 hostages. More than 100 people have yet to be safely returned.

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Dean returned from her second trip less than a week ago. She said her visit confirmed her “concerns and fears.” She said promises to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli strikes and to establish safe zones have been unfulfilled. As of Thursday morning, at least 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza, a number that is likely an undercount.

Getting humanitarian aid into Gaza remains a challenge for international agencies, resulting in warnings from the United Nations highlighting the risk of widespread starvation.

“My heart breaks for Gazans, the suffering of innocent civilians — so many of them children — the devastation and loss of life is unacceptable,” Dean said, also pointing to increased settler violence facing Palestinians in the West Bank.

She said she initially urged Netanyahu “to micro-target, dislodge Hamas, end civilian slaughtering, and bring all hostages home.” Dean hoped Israel would rescue the remaining hostages and root out Hamas, but now she has serious doubts.

“It has been months, and diplomacy — in the form of brief pauses — has been the only effective tool through which aid has flowed into Gaza and hostages have been released,” Dean said. “And since the end of that pause, we have only seen more devastation and a disproportionately low level of success in finding Hamas operatives.”

Rep. Dean calls for a two-state solution

In recent months, Dean has faced pressure in her own district. Several of her events have garnered protests from groups such as MontCo for Liberation, asking Dean to call for a ceasefire.

Dean said that ceasefires have “come and gone” in this decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She wants this one to be everlasting.

“The U.S. and the international community must find a permanent, safe, and dignified pathway to a two-state solution for the future of Palestinian and Israeli civilians alike,” Dean said. “Because Israel must never cease to exist — the Jewish people have a right to live, thrive, and be secure in their cultural, ethnic, and religious practices. And so too, there must be self-determination for Palestinians – liberty, dignity, and joy – in a state of their own. Long overdue is a continuous, democratic, and autonomous Palestinian State – in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

Pennsylvania’s Democratic congress members remain deeply divided on the matter of a ceasefire.

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U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, a Democrat whose district includes Pittsburgh, stood alongside fellow Congressmembers and rabbis in November, demanding a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages.

On the other end of the chasm, Democratic U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, whose Pennsylvania offices have captured the eye of protesters, has been critical of ceasefire calls, arguing the focus should remain on returning hostages.

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