Harris Calls Out Israel for Gaza Crisis, Urges Ceasefire and Hostage Release

US Vice President Kamala Harris has delivered a strong criticism of Israel’s role in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where thousands of people have been killed and injured in the ongoing war with Hamas. Harris also called for an immediate ceasefire and a hostage exchange deal, in what seemed to be the most outspoken statement by a US official on the issue.

Harris made her remarks on Sunday in Selma, Alabama, where she attended a commemoration event for the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a historic civil rights march that was brutally attacked by the police in 1965. Harris drew a parallel between the struggle for racial justice in the US and the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, saying that “our common humanity compels us to act”.

Harris said that the situation in Gaza was “inhumane” and that Israel “must do more” to alleviate the suffering of the people. She said that Israel must open new border crossings, remove unnecessary restrictions on aid delivery, protect humanitarian workers and convoys, and restore basic services and order in Gaza. She also said that Israel must respect the human rights and dignity of the Palestinians, and work towards a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict.

Harris Calls for Ceasefire and Hostage Deal

Harris also urged both Israel and Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire, which has been proposed by the US and other mediators, but has not been accepted by either side. She said that the ceasefire would allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, the recovery of the wounded and the dead, and the negotiation of a longer-term truce.

Harris also said that Hamas must agree to a hostage exchange deal, which would involve the release of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers, who have been held by Hamas since 2014, in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, who have been held by Israel. She said that this deal would be a “humanitarian gesture” and a “confidence-building measure” that would pave the way for further dialogue and cooperation.

Harris Faces Opposition from Netanyahu

Harris’s trip to Selma was not coordinated with the Israeli government, and was reportedly opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been reluctant to accept a ceasefire with Hamas, and has accused the US of undermining Israel’s security and sovereignty. Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges and a political deadlock, has been trying to rally his right-wing base and coalition partners by portraying himself as a strong leader who can defend Israel from its enemies.

Netanyahu and Harris have a tense relationship, and have not spoken directly since she took office in January. Netanyahu has also clashed with President Joe Biden, who has been more critical of Israel’s actions and policies than his predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden has been pushing for a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel vehemently opposes and has vowed to prevent. Biden has also expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has called for an end to the Israeli settlement expansion and the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Harris Meets with Gantz and Other US Officials

Harris is scheduled to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday at the White House, where she is expected to reiterate her message and press for a ceasefire and a hostage deal. Gantz, who is a rival and a coalition partner of Netanyahu, has been more open to dialogue and diplomacy with the US and the Palestinians, and has reportedly agreed to a ceasefire in principle, but with conditions.

Harris will also meet with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the security situation in the region, and the future of the US-Israeli partnership. Harris will also meet with members of Congress and representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobby group, to reassure them of the US’s commitment and support to Israel.

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