Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Year : 2, Issue : 5
Two prominent Democratic senators are urging the Biden administration to use American leverage over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to temper his devastating U.S.-backed campaign in Gaza. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hi.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday asking for specific actions that President Joe Biden will take to change Israel’s course and “to advance an independent, self-governed Palestinian state.”
Their message comes after Netanyahu earlier this month said Israel cannot accept a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Biden has for months resisted calls to do more to pressure Netanyahu, instead privately trying to win Israeli restraint. In recent weeks, Democratic lawmakers have signaled increasing concern with Biden’s policy, noting the killing of more than 26,000 people in Gaza and the deepening humanitarian crisis amid a continued Israeli assault with no clear end in sight.
Warren and Schatz asked the administration to state whether it believes Netanyahu’s views and military strategy serve the causes of eventual peace and freeing hostages captured by Hamas and other Gaza-based militants in their Oct. 7 attack inside Israel, which also killed 1,200 Israelis. They want a written response by Feb. 13 and an in-person discussion on how the administration’s strategy will achieve the goal of Palestinian statehood that Biden, Blinken and others have repeatedly identified.
Warren has previously said U.S. military aid for Israel, more than $3 billion annually and potentially billions more if Congress approves a post-Oct. 7 emergency request from Biden, cannot be “a blank check.” Watchdog groups have repeatedly said Israel has committed war crimes in its Gaza offensive, including with American equipment; Hamas has violated international law as well, they note.
Earlier in January, both senators supported a bid by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to request a State Department report on Israel’s human rights practices. Though a large bipartisan majority rejected the Sanders gambit, a fifth of Senate Democrats endorsed it, adding to signs of resistance to Biden like the growing number of lawmakers calling for an Israel-Hamas cease-fire.