“It would be appalling for the Biden administration to move $ 735 million worth of precision-guided weapons to Netanyahu without any links to escalating violence and attacks on civilians,” spokesman Ilhan Omar, a progressive Democrat from Minnesota, said in a statement Monday. “If this passes, it will be seen as a green light for continued escalation and will undermine all attempts at mediation for a ceasefire.”
Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said of the deal and whether Congress should block it, “I’m not governing anything outside either, but I think given the events of the last three or four days that should be part of the conversation, too. “
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez said he had not seen the details of the arms deal, but was likely to back the deal: “I think it existed before the current conflict. We have a long history of supporting Israel as a security ally and in my defense. So I would say yes. “
Democrats from Parliament̵
Members expressed differing views. One cohort of deputies aggressively addressed the issue of arms sales, while another insisted that Israel deserved the right to defend itself, a source said.
New York spokesman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with fellow Democrats from the committee, is expected to send a letter and statement to the White House on Tuesday calling for a delay in the arms deal, according to two sources familiar with the matter. plan.
Meeks is unable to formally “hold” the deal at this late point in the official review process, but the letter could be used as a pressure point to work to a ceasefire, one source told CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, declined to say whether he supported the deal when asked by reporters on Monday.
However, he said he hoped a ceasefire.
“I want to see a quick end to the fire and mourn the loss of life,” Sumer told reporters.
On Monday, the White House issued a call from President Joe Biden to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Biden “expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed the US commitment to Egypt and other partners to that end.”
But the reading stopped before Biden called for a ceasefire, a position held by many Democrats on the hill.
“It seems to be a moment of change, even if it’s just a calibration,” said one person familiar with the democratic talks, also calling the recalibration “significant.”
Some Democrats have rejected the idea that the party is targeting Israel at all.
“You may see that Democrats are a little more inclined to criticize Israel. This is because Israel’s position has changed and it is increasingly difficult to imagine a future Palestinian state. I think the story is about how Republicans They’ve used it to support the future of two countries, and they don’t seem to support it today, “said Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. “In Israel, there was once a belief that this was important for the country’s security, and that is certainly not an opinion shared by the current government.”
Democratic leaders such as Parliament Speaker Nancy Pelosi have voiced support for Israel, which has traditionally been the party’s position, but progressives have become increasingly vocal about the administration condemning Israel and cutting off military support until it changes its policy toward the Palestinians.
“It is time to have serious talks on the conditionality of military aid,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, a progressive Democrat from New York, on Friday.
The New Jersey Democrat continued: “Given the complexity of Gaza’s densely populated civilian areas and Hamas’ shameful attempt to exploit this reality by hiding military assets behind the innocent, Israeli authorities must continue to practice conscientious warning in advance of their attacks in order to reduce the risk of harm to the innocent. ”
He also called for “full accountability of actions” that led to “civilian deaths and the destruction of the media”.
“Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas missile attacks in a way commensurate with the threat its citizens face,” they said. “As a result of the Hamas rocket attacks and the Israeli reaction, both sides must acknowledge that too many lives have been lost and must not further escalate the conflict. We are encouraged by reports that the parties are investigating a ceasefire. We hope that this ceasefire the fire can be reached quickly and further steps can be taken to preserve the future of the two countries. “
Senator Tim Kane, who signed the letter with Democrats, added on Monday that he believes the United States should aggressively seek a ceasefire by “doing in other situations,” pointing to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Husseins in Yemen.
“I just can’t remember a shooting during a war in which children were killed on both sides, where the United States did not aggressively insist on a ceasefire, and I think we should do the same here,” he said.
In addition to the ceasefire, Kane, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there are other steps the administration needs to take.
“I think it would be good if Biden’s team could nominate a really high-quality candidate for ambassador to Israel,” said the Virginia Democrat. “I think we should try to use the Arab states, which have normalized their relations with Israel, to try to get them to help make the West and Gaza more stable. But I think let’s start by ending the conflict. the fire. “
But Republicans are urging Biden to keep the line. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, called on Biden on Monday to “stay firm” against calls by some of his party for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, citing “indecent moral equivalence.”
“We are already seeing some spread the false story that this conflict is a tragic dispute between two legitimate fighters, with both sides sharing guilt that is roughly equal. What nonsense,” he said in comments on the floor.
He added: “The United States must stand in the quadrangle behind our ally, and President Biden must remain firm against the growing votes in his own party, which create a false equivalence between terrorist aggressors and a responsible state defending itself.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
Manu Raju, Ted Barrett, Zachary Cohen and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.