Top Dems turn on Israel after Biden call with Netanyahu

8 April 2024
Top Dems turn on Israel after Biden call with Netanyahu

Dozens of Democrats have followed President Biden’s lead and argued against continued support of Israel following a White House call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Calls among Democrats for the U.S. to halt weapons shipments to Israel have grown since Biden’s conversation last week and an Israel Defense Forces strike that killed seven staffers of the World Central Kitchen, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., being the latest party leader to sign onto a letter urging the president to end the shipments.

“In light of this incident, we strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel, and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed,” reads a letter from 37 House Democrats.

The uprising against Israel was not limited to the House of Representatives, with several Democrat Senate leaders voicing similar concerns in recent days.


Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

On March 14, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Israel to hold new elections to oust Netanyahu, who Schumer said had “lost his way” during Israel’s monthslong siege of Gaza.

“Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” Schumer said, according to a report in the Associated Press.

The calls come at the same time as Biden warned Netanyahu in a phone call last week that U.S. policy on Gaza could change if Israel does not do more to protect civilians in Gaza, with a White House readout of the call noting that Biden told his Israeli counterpart that strikes on “humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation are unacceptable.”

Biden’s message was repeated by other members of the administration, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning that the U.S. would shift gears “if we don’t see the changes that we need to see” and White House national security communications spokesperson John Kirby calling for such changes within “hours and days.”

“The president made very clear his concerns, and the prime minister acknowledged those concerns,” Kirby said.


Biden also noted the need for an “immediate cease-fire,” according to the White House readout, telling Netanyahu that doing so would be “essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians.”

President Biden (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/File)

But Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told NBC News in an interview last week that changes to Israel’s behavior in the conflict have not come fast enough, arguing that the strike on the aid convoy is “an indication that there has been no modification of the Netanyahu war plan” and has created increased “concern among more and more of my colleagues.”

One such colleague is Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., according to an NBC News report. Coons, a longtime Biden ally who has traditionally been a dependable supporter of Israel, argued in favor of placing conditions on arms shipments to Israel if civilians in Gaza are not better protected.

“If Benjamin Netanyahu were to order the IDF into Rafah at scale … and make no provision for civilians or for humanitarian aid, I would vote to condition aid to Israel,” Coons said during an interview with CNN on Thursday. “I’ve never said that before, I’ve never been here before.”

Meanwhile, families of several American hostages in Gaza have been critical of Biden for not doing enough to bring their loved ones home.


“By now, they are all in dire humanitarian condition,” Orna Neutra, mother of hostage Omer Neutra, said during a press conference for families last week. “A cease-fire with a partial deal, or with no deal, could be a death sentence for our son.”

“We are tired of hearing about progress towards a deal,” Neutra added. “We don’t have time for progress.”

But those concerns didn’t appear to be top of mind for many Democrats, who have focused their ire on the humanitarian situation facing Gaza.

Palestinians rush to collect the humanitarian aid airdropped into Gaza City on March 17, 2024. (AP/Mohammed Hajjar/stringer)

“We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate — or arbitrarily denies or restricts the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” the Democrats’ letter reads.

For his part, Biden has pushed back against the suggestion that he is abandoning Israel or stopping military aid during a tense interaction with reporters Friday.

“I asked them to do what they’re doing,” Biden said when asked if he had threatened to stop military aid to Israel during the call with Netanyahu, according to a Times of Israel report.

Asked by another reporter whether he was abandoning Israel, Biden replied with apparent shock at the suggestion.

“Where you from, man?” Biden said, before being asked the same question again.

“Is that a serious question?” Biden replied.

One notable exception to the trend has been Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., a typically dependable progressive ally who has expressed staunch support for Israel.

“In this war against Hamas – no conditions for Israel,” Fetterman said in a post on X last week.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

Source: foxnews

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