Mar 31, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"You said 'no excuses'": Senate Democrat presses Biden over Gaza aid

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, speaking at a podium surrounded by Senate colleagues.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Sunday urged President Biden to do more to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government over their treatment of Palestinians and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Why it matters: Biden and many of his fellow Democrats face a growing uproar from their party's left flank over their continued support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

What he's saying: "I'm just saying to President Biden, you said 'no excuses' when it comes to getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to drag his feet," Van Hollen said on ABC's "This Week."

  • "So, instead of just sending more bombs without in turn getting the request that you want, Mr. President, let's at least make this a partnership."
  • Van Hollen has been a leading voice in efforts by Senate Democrats to try to convince Israel to improve the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which the UN says is on the verge of famine.

Flashback: As he announced plans to begin airdropping aid into Gaza earlier this month, Biden said he would also "insist" that Israel allow more aid trucks into the Palestinian territory.

  • "No excuses," he said.
  • The International Court of Justice on Thursday joined a chorus of international pressure on Israel to allow unfettered access for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Zoom in: Despite a growing rift between Biden and Netanyahu, the federal government has authorized the transfer of bombs and fighter jets to Israel, according to the Washington Post.

  • Van Hollen on Sunday argued that Biden should enforce a national security memo he signed in February requiring Israel to use U.S. weapons in accordance with international law and allow aid into Gaza.
  • "We have a situation where the Netanyahu government continues to rebuff the president of the United States time and time again, ignores reasonable requests And what do we do? We say we're going to send more bombs."

The other side: Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close ally of Biden, also criticized Netanyahu on Sunday and said the situation in Gaza is "wrong," but pushed back on the notion that the president isn't doing all he can to keep Netanyahu's government in check.

  • "I think the president is using his leverage," the former House majority whip said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
  • Clyburn also pushed back on the significance of pro-Palestinian protests and polling that suggests U.S. support for Israel's war effort is eroding, saying the U.S. has to "keep our word" and "stand in support of Israel."
  • A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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