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Tom Shillue


Seattle councilmember Nick Licata: ‘No time or inclination to research both sides’ of Israel conflict

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes, following a protest against the Israeli military action over Hamas in Gaza, in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, Aug. 15 , 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata has written a letter to Congress questioning Israel’s military actions in Gaza, but concedes to the Jason Rantz Show that he doesn’t “have the time nor inclination to do the research.”

While he condemned some of the action of Hamas, Licata refused to directly label them a terrorist organization and his letter focuses almost exclusively on purported Israeli action.

“We had UN buildings being bombed by Israeli bombers, resulting in a lot of civilian casualties,” Licata told the Jason Rantz Show. “Now, I understand the argument is that there were weapons hidden there but I can’t imagine the UN would allow them being hid in their buildings.”

I immediately reminded councilman Licata that Hamas weaponry has been found housed in UN agency buildings. In fact, on July 22, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency admitted Hamas improperly used their building for storage (UNRWA, in fact, gave back the weapons to Hamas, causing an uproar). The U.S. State Department spoke out against those actions and members of the Senate are demanding an independent investigation.

Councilmember Licata didn’t appear aware of this story.

“I’m not going to debate the specifics back and forth because I’m sure you’re an expert far more than I am,” Licata said.

“You’re the one writing to Congress,” I said.

I went on to explain the reason the civilian casualties are so high is Hamas is firing weapons from hospitals and schools.

“Your statement is a statement,” said Licata. “I don’t have the time nor the inclination to do the research on both sides. Every time I read something, there’s always a counter.”

He went on to say that he doesn’t “…see the harm in bringing [information] together to allow for a public discussion in Congress. The reason that we’d be doing it on this specific topic is because we have U.S. tax dollars involved in it.”

I mentioned that the U.S. has given a $15 million grant to UNRWA and asked if Licata would join me in writing a letter to Congress asking them to demand a bigger investigation. Licata wouldn’t commit.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant drafted a letter last week condemning continued violence in Gaza and sat down with me for an interview. That was significantly more substantive of a discussion.

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