Congressional Dems intensify their pushback against Netanyahu with public defense of Palestinian state

Jan 24, 2024 | Trending, Voices

Congressional Democrats on Wednesday delivered their latest rebuke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, aligning behind a symbolic declaration that the U.S. remains staunchly supportive of a Palestinian state as part of any ultimate resolution to unrest in the Middle East.

As the Senate prepares to take up a potential emergency spending package with funds for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and border security, a group of 49 Senate Democratic caucus members led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) offered an amendment reiterating that U.S. policy favors a two-state solution. The proposal is a clear pushback against Netanyahu’s recent rejection of that approach, giving Democrats a fresh opportunity to channel their frustration with his conservative government.

“The prime minister’s statements last week, I think, accelerated our efforts and also turbocharged our efforts,” Schatz told reporters, adding that he will offer the amendment as part of the national security package’s floor consideration but would not insist on a floor vote. Schatz indicated that future pieces of legislation on the floor may offer another chance to insist on a recorded vote.

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“It has been consistent US policy since 1948, but President Trump raised some questions about it. He didn’t say it wasn’t our policy, but maybe it’s time: We haven’t reaffirmed it legislatively for quite a while,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Added Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) of a possible Trump return to the Oval Office: “It is in some sense another example of trying to batten down the hatches and secure some basic positions before the storm, if there is one.”

There are other efforts to push back on the Israeli government by Democrats. A group of 18 members of the conference are already on board with an amendment led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) that would set certain conditions on aid to Israel.

“The Van Hollen amendment has a lot of momentum and a lot of co-sponsors,” Schatz said. “That is not a particularly radical proposition.”

But there appears to be little indication any Republicans would support Schatz’s push, despite his contention that “the two-state solution remains bipartisan” — but Republicans simply attach “more caveats to it.”

Asked about the calls to condition aid to Israel, moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said “I get it” but “one thing that we need to keep in mind is how fluid everything is.”

“None of us are unsympathetic to [the death toll] but how you [condition aid], I think, is part of the big challenge that we have,” she said in an interview.

View this Politico Report from January 24