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President Biden’s Ultimatum on Israeli Offensive Draws Bipartisan Ire

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President Joe Biden has sparked bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill following his announcement of an ultimatum regarding a significant Israeli offensive in the city of Rafah. In a recent interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Biden revealed that such an offensive would lead to a cessation of certain US weapons supplies to Israel. This decision has drawn sharp rebuke from lawmakers across party lines, with both Republicans and Democrats expressing concerns.

Republican Senator JD Vance of Ohio, speaking on “State of the Union,” questioned the coherence of Biden’s stance, highlighting the contradiction between expressing concern for Palestinian casualties while withholding weapons that could potentially reduce civilian casualties. While the administration specifically mentioned withholding bombs and artillery shells considered indiscriminate and imprecise, Vance argued that this policy does not align with the purported goal of reducing civilian casualties.

The US is currently evaluating the potential sale or transfer of other munitions, including Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits, to Israel. However, these transfers are not imminent and would occur in the future, according to a US official.

President Biden’s announcement marked a significant shift in US-Israeli relations amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Despite assertions from Biden’s aides that the message should not have come as a surprise to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it has sparked controversy both domestically and internationally.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina condemned the ultimatum as “the worst decision in the history of the US-Israel relationship,” urging the Biden administration to continue weapon supplies to Israel and engage in dialogue with Israeli authorities. Similarly, Senator Rick Scott of Florida criticized the decision, accusing Biden of aligning with the “pro-Hamas wing” of his party.

However, criticism has not been confined to the GOP. A group of 26 House Democrats penned a letter to Biden expressing deep concerns about the administration’s message to Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups. Led by Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, the group requested a briefing from the White House to clarify Biden’s decision and the timeline for delivering aid appropriated by Congress for Israel.

Democratic Representative Adam Smith of Washington acknowledged the need for clarity on the types of weapons being withheld, emphasizing that only “dumb, 2,000-pound bombs” have been held back due to concerns about their use in densely populated areas like Rafah.

Despite the backlash, some Democrats have defended Biden’s position. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut argued that Biden’s decision reflects an understanding of the limitations of military intervention, drawing parallels with past US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Murphy emphasized the potential consequences of civilian casualties on Hamas’ strength and future security threats to Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed concerns about civilian casualties, stating that Israel needs to do more to minimize harm to non-combatants. The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported a significant death toll as a result of Israeli military operations, adding urgency to calls for de-escalation and humanitarian assistance.

In conclusion, President Biden’s ultimatum regarding US weapons supplies to Israel has sparked bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers expressing concerns about its potential implications for civilian casualties and the US-Israel relationship. While some Democrats have defended Biden’s decision, others have called for greater clarity and engagement with Congress on the matter. The situation underscores the complex dynamics surrounding US foreign policy in the Middle East and the challenges of balancing strategic interests with humanitarian concerns.

This story was originally featured on CNN

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