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The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a resolution "recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza" by a majority of 390-5.

Lawmakers in Washington routinely pass nonbinding resolutions supporting Israel during Middle East crises.

The Senate on Thursday backed Israel's battle against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and the House of Representatives followed on Friday.

Even U.S. lawmakers who express sympathy for the Palestinians have hesitated to call themselves pro-Palestinian and voice strong support for the security of Israel as well, hewing to decades of close U.S.-Israeli ties.

Watch comments from U.S. Senate representatives voicing their support for Israel:

"When these events occur, there's almost a knee-jerk reaction of Congress that endorses 1,000 percent what Israel is doing," said Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat and Lebanese-American who has voted against some of the measures and did so again on Friday.

"Israel is our ally.... It always has been, with which I perfectly agree. But I don't believe in allowing that to blind us to what is in our best interests, or giving knee-jerk approval to anything Israel does. We don't do that with any other ally," he told Reuters.

Washington has been Israel's closest ally since 1948, when President Harry Truman made the United States the first country to recognize Israel.

Harry Reid, who leads the Democratic majority in the Senate, gave voice to the depth of the relationship when he said on Thursday, "Our resolution reflects the will of the State of Israel and the will of the American people."

The Senate measure offered "unwavering commitment" to Israel. It recognized "its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism" and urged a ceasefire that would keep Hamas from firing rockets at Israel.

That closely tracked Republican President George W. Bush's comments on the crisis, said Ric Stoll, professor of political science at Rice University, who questioned whether it helped U.S. diplomats trying to broker a cease-fire.

Landslide votes"You don't have to say Hamas are nice folks," Stoll said. "(But) how do you convince supporters of the Palestinians to pressure Hamas to go for a cease-fire, if your statements look like you are tilting heavily towards Israel?"

The measure which the House passed Friday noted that the humanitarian situation in Gaza "is becoming more acute" but did not rebuke Israel.

The House has passed similar measures in recent years by landslides.

In 2006, the House voted 410-8 to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah for "unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel" and supported Israel's incursion into Lebanon.

In 2004, the vote was 407-9 to support a statement by Bush that it was "unrealistic" to expect Israel to return completely to pre-1967 borders. In 2003, it was 399-5 to support Israel's forceful response to Palestinian attacks as justified.