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Ahead of State of the Union, crisis in Gaza has become a “defining issue” for President Biden


As President Biden prepares to deliver the State of the Union this week, Oxfam calls on President Biden to be direct with the American people and take responsibility for the United States’ role in the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza—and to act to stop the bloodshed. Recent polling shows that 74% of likely voters support the US calling for a permanent ceasefire and conditioning aid for Israel.

Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President and CEO, said:

“The Biden administration can and must do more to save lives and prevent famine in Gaza now. Many Americans are watching the State of the Union expecting commitments and actions from President Biden to respect its own laws, value human life, and use its leverage to put a stop to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There is no more time for platitudes.  The United States must use all of its power and act: call for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages, full access for humanitarian aid and an embargo of lethal arms to Israel and Palestinian armed groups.

“The United States has a moral and legal responsibility to prevent a famine – and it is not doing everything in its power to do so. The crisis in Gaza has become a defining issue for President Biden, and he has an obligation to act.”

In the State of the Union, Oxfam calls on President Biden to address:

CEASEFIRE: We need a permanent ceasefire now as the death toll continues to grow by the day. This is an operational necessity: humanitarian organizations simply cannot respond at scale while fighting continues.

ARMS: The US continues to provide military support for Israel despite its perpetration of grave war crimes and systematic obstruction of U.S.-supported humanitarian assistance – contrary to the requirements of U.S. law. Oxfam and others have called to immediately halt the transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups while there is risk they are used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.

AID: The Biden administration has repeatedly signaled its interest in expanding humanitarian access for Gaza – using private diplomacy to negotiate the entry of more trucks and now even conducting airdrops into Gaza without measurable results. While we see reports of children starving to death, any amount of aid is welcome. But airdrops can be dangerous, and are expensive and ineffective – they should only be used as an absolute last resort, when people have been cut off by floods or landslides, or there are great distances with no transport routes. This is not the case in Gaza – nations have had to resort to airdrops because of Israel’s deliberate military and political actions to cut off aid access to Gaza. The aid dropped has been reported to amount to less than one truck of humanitarian aid that sits outside of Gaza waiting for entry.

The Biden administration’s decision to use air drops suggests that it will not do everything necessary and within their power to ensure the movement of humanitarian assistance through safe, effective and scalable methods. Instead of relying on airdrops, efforts should focus on opening additional supply routes to Gaza and facilitating the passage of aid through established crossings.

RAFAH OFFENSIVE: The Biden administration has publicly called on Israel to forestall any large-scale operation in Rafah until a “credible and executable humanitarian plan,” is in place. The administration knows, however, that no such plan is available to enable civilians to survive this crisis with their dignity without a ceasefire – this is a Catch-22, and the administration must use its power and authority to prevent a large-scale offensive, unconditionally.  A credible and executable humanitarian plan is only credible and executable in the context of a ceasefire and the enabling environment.


Notes to the editors: 

Data on likely voter support for permanent ceasefire:

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