Updated May 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden faces new Democratic pressure to rein in Israel

Rep. Jason Crow, wearing a gray suit, speaking with colleagues on the House floor.

Rep. Jason Crow. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

A group of nearly 90 House Democrats is urging President Biden to consider halting sales of offensive weaponry to Israel over concerns about continued restrictions on the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Why it matters: It comes as increasingly intense pro-Palestinian protests have rocked college campuses across the country, alarming many Democrats.

State of play: The lawmakers, led by Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.), cited a memo Biden signed in February requiring Israel to provide assurances on the preservation of human rights in Gaza.

  • Among the assurances is that the country will "facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede" aid into Gaza, or else U.S. weapons transfers would be halted.
  • Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed a letter providing those assurances in March.

What they're saying: The group of 88 Democrats wrote in a letter to Biden that they "strongly support Israel's right to self-defense" but argued there is "sufficient evidence" that Israel is in violation of the federal law upon which the memo is based.

Between the lines: The letter was signed by notable and high-ranking House Democrats including center-left New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Jim Himes (D-Conn.).

  • The letter frames calls for increased humanitarian aid in pro-Israel terms, arguing that a famine in Gaza is "harmful to Israel's own security interests, both in the immediate and the long term."
  • It follows another letter from 57 House Democrats earlier this month urging Biden to preemptively withhold the transfer of any aid that can be used in an assault on the Southern Gazan city of Rafah.

The bottom line: In a nod to the growing pro-Palestinian protest movement in the U.S. and abroad, the lawmakers concluded, "Allowing famine to take hold in Gaza is already severely damaging the Israeli government's international standing and harming prospects for peace."

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