Two Democratic lawmakers have been crafting a resolution condemning Hamas’ sexual violence against Israeli women, which at first glance seemed to be another intraparty headache for Rep. Pramila Jayapal.
The Washington progressive had faced some criticism for her comments on CNN over the weekend appeared to equivocate the militant group’s sexual violence with Israel’s actions against Palestinians.
But Jayapal and people familiar with the measure’s drafting insisted the timing was just a coincidence.
“It’s not in response to the controversy,” Jayapal said in a brief interview, adding that she’d talked to the two sponsors, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), about it. They told her: “They’ve been talking about doing this for some time. It’s in response to the UN finally having a hearing on this.”
A person familiar with Frankel’s thinking confirmed it had been a “longstanding priority” for the congresswoman, who’s been a staunch ally of Israel amid the escalating war in Gaza. The measure was not filed in response to any member’s comments, the person said, and was part of growing condemnation of sexual violence in war and a follow-up to a letter Frankel had signed onto last month.
Jayapal, for her part, “unequivocally” condemned Hamas’ use of rape and sexual violence against women.
“I think rape in any context is horrific. Sexual assault in any context is horrific. What Hamas has done with these rapes and sexual assault is horrific,” she said. Jayapal also suggested that anyone who suggested otherwise was distorting her views on the matter and singling her out for her stances on the war.
CNN earlier reported the measure’s drafting.