WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement calling for a bilateral ceasefire in Israel and Gaza:

“Less than a week ago, I returned from my second trip to the Israeli and Palestinian territories since the October 7th brutal attacks. The visits allowed me to speak with Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Palestinian leaders in Ramallah. 

What I saw confirmed my concerns and fears. 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.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s dishonesty — his broken promises to use precision strikes to protect civilians and his false claims that safe zones have been created and enforced — is unacceptable.

My heart breaks for Gazans, the suffering of innocent civilians — so many of them children — the devastation and loss of life is unacceptable.

Since the start of Israel’s mission to root out Hamas, in the wake of the brutal murders and kidnappings on Oct. 7th, the United States has given Mr. Netanyahu time and discretion, in the hopes that Israel could do that which would benefit us all — rid Gaza of a cruel terrorist organization and bring hostages home.

Instead, Mr. Netanyahu has used that time, that discretion, to wage a war against civilians — and no war against civilians is just.

On my trip to Israel in November, I spoke with the Prime Minister — and urged him to micro-target, dislodge Hamas, end civilian slaughtering, and bring all hostages home.

And when I called for a long term pause at the end of October, I did so out of concern for both Israeli hostages and Palestinian civilians. I advocated for a pause to ensure that hostages could be returned home and access to food, water, shelter, medical supplies, and other necessities could be restored in Gaza.

At that time, I had hoped that Israel would root out terrorism and rescue the hostages. Now, I have serious doubts about how Prime Minister Netanayhu and his government are executing this war and carrying out this rescue mission.

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. And since the end of that pause, we have only seen more devastation and a disproportionately low level of success in finding Hamas operatives.

This war has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians – in Gaza, and in the West Bank, where settler violence has sharply risen since October 7th. 

Whether in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank, this war has devastated an already hurting population, and appears to have no end in sight.

For those reasons, I am calling for a bilateral ceasefire with the release of all remaining hostages.

Words matter. During this conflict, I have been careful and deliberate with my words. But four months into the war – into the suffering – we must all rally behind an end to the violence and heartbreak.

And whether you feel more comfortable with calling it a “humanitarian pause,” “humanitarian ceasefire,” “negotiated stop,” or “ceasefire,” the truth remains – it’s time to turn to diplomacy: end the war, return the hostages, and arrive at a long overdue station of permanent peace.

The international community – including Gulf nations – has signaled urgency in ending this war.

Ceasefires have come and gone in this conflict. We must do everything in our power, as a global community, to ensure that this ceasefire finally ends this long-term conflict.

The US 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.

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.

For any of this to be possible, we must have a common understanding that what we’ve tried in the past – is simply not working.

And so now, with the U.S. leading — arm-in-arm with the international community — permanent peace, security, and sovereignty for two nations must be realized.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.