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Schumer, ‘Squad’ members praise Biden for halting weapons aid to Israel

“I believe that Israel and America have an ironclad relationship, and I have faith in what the Biden administration is doing,” the Senate majority leader said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 27, 2017. Credit: Al Teich/Shutterstock.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 27, 2017. Credit: Al Teich/Shutterstock.

Major American Jewish organizations, Republicans and even some congressional Democrats have criticized U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement in a CNN interview that he would deny weapons aid to Israel if it attacks Rafah.

Some members of Congress have come to the defense of the president, who reportedly sought to keep the withheld weapons under wraps until after he had delivered a talk about the Holocaust in the U.S. Capitol.

“I believe that Israel and America have an ironclad relationship, and I have faith in what the Biden administration is doing,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote that Biden “is right to halt bomb deliveries to this extreme Israeli government. But this must be a first step.” He added that Washington “must now use all its leverage to demand a ceasefire, stop attacks on Rafah and secure delivery of massive humanitarian aid throughout Gaza.”

Biden’s decision was an “important step in the right direction,” according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote that he was “pleased to see that certain offensive arms deliveries have since been paused” and encouraged the administration “to continue to be wary of transferring weapons that could be used in offensive military actions that result in significant civilian casualties.”

Five members of the so-called progressive “Squad” of far-left members of Congress weighed in.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responded to a social media post by the former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who said that Biden had “lost his mind” and is helping Hamas win.

“Biden has not ‘lost his mind.’ He is upholding the word of the U.S.,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “There are 1.3 million people in Rafah. You do not need to slaughter them to go after Hamas. Biden stated the U.S. red line was Rafah. It would make us weaker and the world less safe to let Bibi, or anyone, cross it.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) wrote that Biden’s claim that U.S.-made bombs have been used to kill civilians in Gaza “is what young people across the country were protesting for, and finally, the needle has moved in a significant way.”

“We have to keep standing for what is right,” wrote Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “Organizing is working. Protesting is working. Keep fighting for a ceasefire now.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) praised Biden’s decision. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) called it “the right and just thing” for him to do.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also supported the president’s decision.

“An invasion of Rafah would leave untold death and destruction in its wake—including massive civilian casualties and devastating impacts on the delivery of humanitarian aid—while undermining efforts to release the hostages,” Van Hollen stated

“Today’s commitment from the president makes clear that the United States will not be complicit in this suffering and follows through on his repeated warnings to the Netanyahu government,” the Maryland Democrat added. “American support must be used in line with our interests and our values.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who is Jewish, stated that it is not unprecedented for presidents, of both parties, to condition military aid to Israel.

“While Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself, there is no reason we should provide additional destructive offensive weapons that are likely to be used in an invasion of Rafah,” Schatz stated. “Israel must target Hamas in a much more precise manner that prevents avoidable civilian death and suffering. President Biden drawing a clear line about America’s strategic and moral imperatives is in keeping with decades of bipartisan American foreign policy practices.”

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