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NC congresswoman quietly signs on to letter calling for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Following weeks of urging and protest from constituents who organized protests and tried to meet with her, U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee quietly signed on to a letter calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

“Recognizing the ongoing conflict, we acknowledge the devastating impact these atrocities have had on innocent lives,” said the letter, sent to President Joe Biden on Friday. “We stand united to promote peace, stability, and justice for all people. Too many innocent lives have been lost already. The bloodshed must end.”

Since the Oct. 7 surprise attack from Hamas, which killed 1,200 Israelis, over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s counteroffensive, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A weeklong truce ended on Friday as fighting resumed.

Foushee, a first-term Democrat who represents Orange and Durham counties, joined 10 other Democrats in signing a letter led by Rep. Troy A. Carter Sr. of Louisiana calling for a bilateral ceasefire. As of Monday, she has not publicized her support of the letter on social media. Her office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday from The News & Observer.

Foushee’s apparent endorsement of the letter marks a departure from her previous response to the war. For weeks now, she has resisted calls from progressive groups that urged her and the rest of the Triangle’s members of Congress to seek a ceasefire.

After protesters with Jewish Voice for Peace blocked traffic on the Durham freeway for hours demanding that Foushee support a ceasefire, she released a statement condemning the violence but stopping short of endorsing a total end to hostilities.

“Under international law, Israel has the indisputable right to defend herself, and must do so without violating humanitarian law by targeting innocent civilians as a part of any military campaign,” she wrote.

JVP also wrote and called to Foushee frequently and visited her office asking for a meeting. Sandra Korn, a leader with the Triangle chapter of JVP, said they never heard from her directly, but believe their activism and that of other groups like Moms for Ceasefire finally pushed Foushee to switch her stance.

“We’re so proud of the organizing that has brought us to this point,” Korn said. “...And we’re going to be looking to make sure that her voting record represents that commitment.”

Progressive groups have criticized Foushee in the past for her connections to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which supported some Republican candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election or voted not to certify the results.

In the 2022 elections, AIPAC raised over $160,000 for Foushee’s congressional campaign. After she refused to disavow the money, the Progressive Caucus of the state Democratic Party revoked its endorsement of Foushee.

Jewish Voice for Peace has also asked Reps. Wiley Nickel and Deborah Ross, both Democrats who represent Wake County, to join the call for a ceasefire.