newsIsrael at War

Senate Republicans, House Dems send contrasting messages to Biden on ‘settler violence’

“Netanyahu opposes a two-state solution,” the Democrats said. “That puts him in direct conflict with President Biden and virtually all Arab states.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). Credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikipedia.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). Credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikipedia.

Nine Senate Republicans and six House Democrats conveyed starkly different messages to U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday about alleged “settler violence” in Judea and Samaria.

The Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), demanded that Biden rescind a Feb. 1 executive order sanctioning four Israeli “settlers” and withdraw a Feb. 8 memorandum requiring Israel to promise in writing that it is not violating international law in order to continue receiving U.S. arms and military aid.

“Your Feb. 1 executive order grants the State Department broad authority to arbitrarily punish Israelis in Judea and Samaria, with no defined standards for determining when sanctions are warranted,” Republicans wrote to Biden. “Under the guise of ‘peace, security or stability of the West Bank,’ it appears the State Department can punish arbitrarily any Israeli it wants.”

The letter notes that no similar sanctions have been levied against the Palestinian Authority despite its so-called “pay-to-slay” program that provides pensions to jailed terrorists and to the families of dead terrorists.

The senators also wrote that Biden’s actions have undermined Israeli efforts to defeat Hamas.

“Your Feb. 8 memorandum similarly—and falsely—implies that Israel is committing mass war crimes in its campaign against Hamas and threatens to cut off aid unless Israel meets arbitrary deadlines for providing ‘assurances’ regarding international humanitarian law,” the letter adds. “Yet, we already have rules requiring aid recipients to comply with applicable law and in line with American interests.”

Led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the House Democrats applauded Biden’s actions and called on him to take further steps against Israelis that they called “perpetrators.”

“We found all parties working for change are looking for greater U.S. leadership and welcome the major steps President Biden has taken,” the Democrats stated. “The president must continue to lead on humanitarian assistance and ending settler violence, building off the executive order.”

The Democrats added that to stop “settler violence” there must be “greater accountability for perpetrators, expanding the use of President Biden’s executive order, and reinforcing that the West Bank and Gaza are ‘occupied territory’ under international law.”

In their statement, DeLauro and her five colleagues included a bulleted list of changes they want to see Israel make. That list seemed to connect Israel’s war against Hamas and Israeli “settlers” by calling for “an immediate end to violence in Gaza and the West Bank.”

“Recognition that the current level of civilian loss of life in Gaza is unacceptable and far beyond what is necessary to defeat Hamas,” per one bullet point. “The Israeli government must take every step possible to prevent the loss of civilian life and deconflict military action with humanitarian deliveries.”

“The Israeli government must bring an end to settler violence, which predated Oct. 7 and then surged after Oct. 7,” the following bullet point states.

The Democratic members of Congress then used casualty statistics, provided by the Hamas-controlled Gaza health authorities, to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are deeply worried that Prime Minister Netanyahu is moving toward the total destruction of Gaza and has demonstrated an utter disregard for Palestinian lives,” the Democrats stated. “Nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed—with almost 70,000 more injured and thousands missing. He has shamefully been unwilling to allow humanitarian services in at the scale needed.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu opposes a two-state solution,” they added. “That puts him in direct conflict with President Biden and virtually all Arab states.”

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