Apr 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden ally Coons open to putting conditions on aid to Israel

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) speaks during a news conference following a closed-door lunch meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol November 28, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 28, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of the top Democratic backers of Israel and close ally to President Biden, suggested Thursday that the U.S. should condition its aid to Israel as the war in Gaza drags on.

Why it matters: Unconditional Democratic support for Israel has started to wane as both the White House and top congressional leaders have soured on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the war.

Driving the news: Coons argued on CNN on Thursday that he thinks the U.S. is "at that point" that conditions must be placed on aid to Israel.

  • "If Benjamin Netanyahu were to order the IDF into Rafah at scale ... and make no provision for civilians or for humanitarian aid, I would vote to condition aid to Israel," Coons said.
  • "I've never said that before, I've never been here before," Coons added.

State of play: Coons' comments come days just after seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were killed by the Israel Defense Forces and as tensions between the U.S. and Israel grow over a planned operation in Rafah.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the unprecedented step last month of calling for elections in Israel, a major sign of Senate Democratic distaste for Netanyahu's government.

  • While some danced around the idea of calling for elections, many Democrats embraced Schumer's criticism of Netanyahu.
  • President Biden is also "outraged" with the prime minister ahead of a call between the two men scheduled for Thursday morning.
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