Mar 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden faces bipartisan backlash over UN ceasefire vote

Reps. Josh Gottheimer, wearing a blue suit, light blue shirt and teal tie, and Tom Suozzi, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Tom Suozzi. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

President Biden is facing blowback from pro-Israel lawmakers in both parties for allowing the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages.

Why it matters: The U.S. abstention appears to have had damaging ripple effects on the U.S.-Israel relationship, with Israel cancelling a delegation to the U.S. and pulling out of hostage talks in the aftermath.

Driving the news: Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday introduced a resolution declaring that "any resolution of the Israeli-Hamas conflict should take place only with the full cooperation and approval of Israel at each step of the process."

  • The measure, first reported by Jewish Insider, also says the U.S. "should continue to support Israel and should not attempt to force Israel to take any course of action that is against its best interest."
  • D'Esposito has had discussions with House Republican leadership about putting the bill on the floor, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Zoom out: The resolution draws on furious reactions from House and Senate Republicans to what they see — despite the administration's insistence to the contrary — as a U.S. policy shift away from supporting Israel.

  • It's not just Republicans who have denounced the abstention. "It's appalling the U.S. allowed passage of a resolution that fails to condemn Hamas," Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a social media post on Monday.
  • Fetterman was joined on Tuesday by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who said he was "shocked" and fears the lack of a U.S. veto will "only embolden Hamas and delay the safe return of hostages."
  • Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) similarly said in a statement on Tuesday that the abstention "has emboldened Hamas terrorists."

The other side: "Our vote does not — I repeat — does not represent a shift in our policy," White House spokesperson John Kirby said at a briefing on Monday.

  • Kirby said the U.S. did not vote for the measure because it "does not have key language that we think is essential," but said it "does fairly reflect our view that a ceasefire and the release of hostages come together."
  • Kirby said the U.S. was "perplexed" by Netanyahu's response, noting that the resolution was non-binding and arguing that, in addition to being "consistent" in its policy, the U.S. "get[s] to decide what what our policy is."
  • A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on the blowback.

Between the lines: While a handful of the most pro-Israel Democrats broke with Biden over the abstention, a larger bloc of them has signaled support for the move amid growing unease with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that's left more than 30,000 Palestinians dead.

  • "I've long been calling for a negotiated, mutual ceasefire. But the urgency of getting the remaining hostages home, and getting aid to Palestinian civilians, makes it essential that a halt to this war happen now," Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said in a post on X.
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