Joe Biden faces a divided into its own party on the conflict in Gaza, as Progressive Democrats pressured the president to take a tougher stance on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Democratic members of Congress have criticized the Biden administration’s defense of Israel, which reflects decades of orthodoxy in American foreign policy, but is increasingly at odds with the party’s grassroots opinion.
Like violence in the region continued during the weekendDemocrats fought in public over how the United States should respond.
Bernie Sanders, the left-wing senator from Vermont, said on Sunday: “When the United States of America spends nearly $ 4 billion a year on Israel, we have the right to demand that they respect the human rights of Israel. all, including the Palestinians. . “
He told the MSNBC news channel: “What we need now is an impartial policy, which protects the security of Israel – they have the right to live in peace and security without terrorist attacks. – but the inhabitants of the Palestinian territories also have the right to live in peace and security. right to live in peace and dignity. “
Sanders’ comments came a day after Biden spoke to both Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, after days of fighting.
The White House said the US president told Abbas that Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel, while in Netanyahu he “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Gaza’s death toll on Sunday stood at 192, including 92 women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel has reported 10 deaths as a result of Hamas attacks, including two children.
The president’s tone reflects his long-term support for Israel. But it sparked the ire of American Muslim groups, including several boycotted a virtual White House event Sunday to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
And that also put him at odds with a new generation of progressives within his party. While he was able to find common cause with younger and more left-wing members of his party on a host of national issues, such as the economy, infrastructure and climate change, he finds it harder to do so. in matters of foreign policy.
Several members of Congress criticized the administration’s stance during a heated debate in the House of Representatives last Thursday.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the representative from New York, said during the debate: “The president and many other personalities have declared this week that Israel has the right to defend itself, and it is a feeling which is echoed. throughout this organ. But do the Palestinians have the right to survive? “
Other Democrats have also been more willing than in the past to criticize Israel. Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a staunch supporter of Israel, said in a report On Saturday, he was “deeply disturbed” by some of Israel’s military actions.
Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser under Barack Obama, said he “feels more and more untenable for the United States to see this loss of civilian lives in Gaza – including so many children – and not to publicly call for a ceasefire ”.
But many other established members of Congress have maintained their traditional support for Israel. Ted Deutch, Florida’s representative for three terms, said during last week’s debate: “If I am asked to choose between a terrorist organization and our democratically, I will stand with Israel.”
The divisions reflect shifting views within the party on US policies in the region. In 2008, only 33% of Democrats believed the United States should pressure the Israelis to compromise rather than the Palestinians, according to Gallup poll. That number is now 53%.
Meanwhile, many of those who campaigned for greater racial equality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last year have found common cause with the Palestinians.
A declaration posted by the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram last week said: “You cannot advocate for racial equality, LGBT and women’s rights, condemn corrupt and abusive regimes and other injustices while choosing to ignore Palestinian oppression. Something is wrong.”
Democratic infighting continued over the weekend as Ritchie Torres and Jamaal Bowman, both Democratic members of Congress representing areas neighboring New York City, argued over Twitter.
Last week, Torres spoke out in defense of Israel and accused his critics of forming an “authoritarian Twitter mob” against him. On Sunday, Bowman tweeted: “My brother Ritchie, this is not a Twitter mob. It is about justice, humanity and equality. “
Torres replied, “I have deep respect for you as a colleague. But it worries me when those on Twitter post images that wipe Israel off the map, as one elected official recently did. “
Republicans have been keen to play democratic divisions over Israel, especially as they face their own divisions over the party’s future as a result of The eviction of Liz Cheney of its leadership of Congress.
Jason Miller, adviser to former President Donald Trump, tweeted a song detailing democratic divisions over Israel, saying, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict exposes a divide among Democrats.”