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Rep. Jamie Raskin: Only a Two-State Solution Can End “Nightmare” of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Democratic Congressmember Jamie Raskin of Maryland says he may not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress in July, as some other Democrats have already vowed to boycott the speech. “My main commitment at this point is to see a ceasefire to end the bloodshed, to get the hostages returned and to surge humanitarian aid into Gaza,” says Raskin. He says Israel had a right to retaliate after the October 7 attack led by Hamas, but “only within the constraints of international law,” and says there needs to be a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and end “the nightmare that has been going on for decades now.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: If you can comment today, switching gears to Gaza? Yesterday, Congressmember Ro Khanna, your colleague from California, said he will not attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress in July. He’s joining people like Senator Bernie Sanders and others. Are you going to be joining them, Congressmember Raskin?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, I haven’t figured that out yet. You know, my main commitment at this point is to see a ceasefire, to end the bloodshed, to get the hostages returned and to surge humanitarian aid into Gaza. And our focus has to be on that. I’m not even necessarily convinced that Netanyahu is coming. And I want us to keep the focus on ending the violence right now. But in terms of —

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean — what do you mean, Congressman Raskin, that you’re not convinced he’s coming?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, originally, there was another date given. That date was changed. Now the date that has been given, I think, is July 24th. Is that right?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that’s right.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Yeah, but, I mean, you know, there is a war going on, and I hope there’s a meaningful ceasefire process that’s taking place, and I think we should keep our focus on that. And then, obviously, I’ll have to confront the whole question of whether I can assist some tiny forward momentum in terms of making peace and bringing an end to the bloodshed by going or by not going. I don’t know the answer to that. But that’s the kind of calculus I would have to make.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Congressmember Raskin, are you for a permanent ceasefire?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, I’m for a permanent cessation of all military hostilities. We’ve got to end these brutal cycles of violence and warfare. And that means we’ve got to address the underlying political problems. And we need to get onto the path to a real two-state solution, which has been American policy and also the international consensus for decades.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Raskin, also, Bernie Sanders, the independent senator, has called for a cutoff of military aid to Israel. Are you in support of that?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: I have not called for a cutoff of all military aid to Israel. I did vote against the last package because of the way that this war has been prosecuted. And I said from the beginning that Israel has a right to defend itself against the kinds of terrorist atrocities that we saw take place on October 7th, but only within the constraints of international law and international human rights law. And if you step outside of it, then that is a disaster for humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, President Biden is, you know, neck and neck with President Trump in running for president. There have been these “uncommitted” votes all over the country, where people are saying they don’t support President Trump, but they don’t support President Biden because of his support for Netanyahu and Israel’s war on Gaza. I’m wondering your thoughts, as young people overwhelmingly have fled the Democrats when it comes to voting for Biden right now. African Americans, you know, a thousand religious leaders, Black leaders, wrote to President Biden and said they’ve never seen anything like this since the civil rights movement, whole congregations criticizing President Biden for how he has supported Netanyahu in this war on Gaza. Your thoughts?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, look, Amy, we’re living in a time of extraordinary fanaticism and illegality and threat to democracy and human rights. And we’re obviously confronting that in America with the return of Donald Trump and his authoritarian movement, which traffics in racism, antisemitism, you name it.

And I believe that the Democratic Party must be on the side of the Constitution and the rule of law, and that includes international law and international human rights law, the laws of war. And I believe that’s where the vast majority of the people are. And I believe that the Biden administration is honestly and aggressively working for a ceasefire and for a return of the hostages that are being held by Hamas right now. And I think that’s where most people are. I think that people do not support a war that has resulted in lots of civilian casualties, a majority of them being women and children. And people do not support the terrorism of Hamas. People support the strategic defense and security of Israel. And people want to see progress out of the nightmare, which has been going on for decades now, these cycles of terror and war that leave lots of casualties, lots of death on both sides and lots of hopelessness.

And we know that Donald Trump offers absolutely no hope for progress there. And I believe that the Biden administration and the Democrats will be the way for us to get through this nightmare and to get to a ceasefire, and then meaningful negotiations so we can break out of this.

And in addition to the humanitarian imperative, which is so overwhelming on both sides, this war has also been an environmental nightmare. I mean, the world can’t afford more wars like this. We have got to get people together across the world to be dealing with the reality of climate change, which is now a dagger at the throat of all humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: Jamie Raskin, we want to thank you for being with us, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, author of the book Unthinkable. This is Democracy Now! Back in 20 seconds.

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