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US should ‘reset relationship of unconditional support’ for Israel, progressives say | US politics | The Guardian

US should ‘reset relationship of unconditional support’ for Israel, progressives say

"Members of Congress express disagreement after Netanyahu says he opposes creation of Palestinian state after Gaza war

a man in a suit rests his chin on his hands in front of an ochre curtain
Representative Adam Schiff on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on 1 February 2023. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Leading progressive and Jewish members of Congress have criticized the US’s “unconditional support” for Israel after Benjamin Netanyahu declared bluntly that he was opposed to a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza and directly rejected American policy.

Israel’s prime minister declared on Thursday that Israel would forever maintain control over all land west of the River Jordan, making an independent Palestinian state there impossible. “This is a necessary condition, and it conflicts with the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty,” Netanyahu said. “What to do? I tell this truth to our American friends, and I also stopped the attempt to impose a reality on us that would harm Israel’s security.”

Pramila Jayapal, the US representative who heads the influential Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Friday issued one of the sharper responses to Netanyahu, saying in a video that the Israeli prime minister’s stance “should cause us to reset our relationship of unconditional support to [his] government”.

“These are policies that are diametrically opposed to the US’s stated goals,” Jayal said about Netanyahu’s calls for the permanent expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza.

Meanwhile, 15 Jewish members of the House released a statement Friday saying they “strongly disagree with the prime minister” of the predominantly Jewish nation.

“A two-state solution is the path forward,” said the statement, whose signatories included Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff and Elissa Slotkin. They were joined by 11 fellow House Democrats: Jake Auchincloss, Rebecca Balint, Suzanne Bonamici, Steve Cohen, Daniel Goldman, Seth Magaziner, Mike Levin, Dean Phillips, Jan Schakowsky, Kim Schrier and Bradley Sherman.

In a separate statement, Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid predicted that “continuing to unconditionally fund Israel’s war in Gaza” would doom Joe Biden’s campaign to be re-elected as president.

“He will break a fundamental trust with many Democrats,” said Shahid, a former spokesperson for the progressive political action committee Justice Democrats. Shahid also warned that “lecturing about the greater evil” represented by the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, would do “little” to repair it.

Trump is facing more than 90 pending criminal charges for attempting to forcibly overturn his defeat to Biden in the 2020 election, illegally retaining government secrets after he left the Oval Office, and hush-money payments to an adult film actor who has alleged an extramarital sexual encounter with him. He has also been grappling with civil litigation over his business practices and a rape accusation which a judge has determined to be substantially true.

“I pray, for all our sakes, that Biden corrects course – because our country cannot afford to pay the bill for disregarding Palestinian lives should it come due in November,” Shahid said.

In a statement reported by Reuters, the White House said Friday that Biden had spoken with Netanyahu about “developments in Israel and Gaza”. The White House said it would issue a statement later Friday with details of the pair’s conversation.

Despite occasionally endorsing the concept, Netanyahu has worked to obstruct the establishment of a Palestinian state throughout his political career.

His statements Thursday were his most pointed attack on the US’s preferred foreign policy approach in Gaza, however.

It came after Biden’s administration had spent massive domestic political capital – and billions of dollars in aid – to support Israel’s military in its strikes there.

Israel, which receives $3.8bn annually in security assistance from the US, mounted the offensive in Gaza in response to the 7 October attack by Hamas that killed about 1,200. Israeli military operations in Gaza have since killed more than 24,000 people.

Netanyahu’s comments Thursday came two days after US senators defeated a measure from progressive Bernie Sanders that would have made military aid to Israel conditional on whether the Israeli government is violating human rights and international accords with its offensive in Gaza.

Biden’s White House opposed Sanders’s proposal and has asked Congress to approve an additional $14bn for Israel.

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US should ‘reset relationship of unconditional support’ for Israel, progressives say | US politics | The Guardian

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