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Lawmakers overwhelmingly vote to recognize Israel’s right to exist, call for Hamas to free hostages

Lawmakers advanced a pair of bills to reaffirm Israel’s right to exist in the wake of rising antisemitism and to demand that Palestinian terrorist group Hamas release the remaining hostages it took during its deadly attack on Israeli civilians last month.

The House overwhelmingly advanced Rep. Mike Lawler’s measure to recognize Israel’s right to exist, on a 412-1 vote.

Mr. Lawler, New York Republican, called out members of the progressive “Squad,” like Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who have used the antisemitic phrase “from the river to the sea.”

Ms. Tlaib voted “present” on the bill. The one “no” vote was Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. Lawler’s bill also includes a declaration that denying the Jewish state’s right to exist is a form of antisemitism and calls for lawmakers to reject calls for Israel’s destruction.

“Every member should be on record in support of Israel‘s right to exist,” Mr. Lawler said. “If they can’t muster the courage to support Israel‘s right to exist, at this moment they don’t belong in Congress, period.”

The one explicitly dissenting vote did not come from a progressive or a Squad member, though.

Mr. Massie said on X that he agreed with reaffirming Israel‘s right to exist, but voted against the bill because it equated anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is deplorable, but expanding it to include criticism of Israel is not helpful,” Mr. Massie said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of Rep. Haley Stevens’ bill calling for the release of hostages held captive in the Gaza Strip, which included over 230 co-sponsors.

A fifth day of a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas brought about another round of Israeli hostages being released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas still holds about 160 hostages out of 240 that the terrorist organization seized during its surprise attack. Only one of the hostages traded so far during the temporary truce has been an American — a 4-year-old girl.

“We have seen some hostages in the last handful of days being returned, and now we’ve learned of their harrowing time held in tunnels, nearly starved, no beds and right now, too many are left in those tunnels,” Ms. Stevens said. “Injured, uncared for and victimized at the hands of those who killed their fellow countrymen.”

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