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BIBI BACKLASH

After Netanyahu’s rejection of two-state solution, five new Senate Democrats support conditioning Israel aid

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is up for re-election in 2024, is one of the new backers of conditioning aid to Israel

JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

A day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected the prospect of a two-state solution following the war in Gaza, five additional senators announced their support for an amendment conditioning emergency supplemental aid to Israel and other allies.

Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) joined the 13 senators already supporting the amendment, bringing its support to 18 lawmakers, more than a third of the Democratic caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said earlier this week that discussions in the caucus on the subject were ongoing, and senators supporting conditions suggested on Thursday that Netanyahu’s comments highlighted the need for restrictions on U.S. assistance.

Butler, who was one of eleven senators who voted last week in favor of an amendment that could have automatically cut off U.S. aid to Israel entirely, said in a statement that “Our partners and allies deserve America’s unwavering support, and it is also true that we must hold those nations accountable for what they choose to do with that support,” emphasizing the need to protect civilians and children and guarantee humanitarian assistance.

Baldwin, who faces a competitive re-election campaign in 2024 and is one of just three senators who has explicitly called for a ceasefire, said that “it’s our responsibility to make sure our aid is used in accordance with international humanitarian law – just as our country regularly does.”

In a statement, Ossoff said: “Congress has an obligation to oversee how foreign governments are using American weapons.”

Smith said the amendment “requires the transparency and accountability the United States expects and deserves from our friends and allies receiving security assistance.”

Warnock, highlighting his career as a pastor, said that “it is imperative that the United States ensures any country receiving our security assistance is using those resources in a way that is consistent with American values and international law.”

The announcement from the amendment’s sponsors comes amid growing criticism of Netanyahu’s comments from pro-Israel Democrats.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), a close political ally of President Joe Biden, said on CNN that there is — not for the first time — ”some tension between Prime Minister Netanyahu, his political goals and aims, and the challenges of crafting a positive, peaceful path forward for the Israeli Palestinian people.” But he added that “there is a real prospect for regional peace… because of President Biden’s leadership” and “the Israeli public needs to choose what is the best path forward.”

Fourteen Jewish House Democrats — including some staunchly pro-Israel members and others who have been more critical of Israel’s military operation or have called for a ceasefire — rejected Netanyahu’s comments in a curt, two-sentence statement.

“We strongly disagree with the Prime Minister. A two-state solution is the path forward,” Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Becca Balint (D-VT), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) said in the statement.

Another group of Jewish Democrats, including some of the most outspoken pro-Israel lawmakers in the House — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) — issued a separate statement which avoided mentioning Netanyahu directly.

“Hamas must release all of the hostages, including the six Americans, and cease firing rockets at Israel,” they said. “Once that is achieved, and Hamas is defeated, it will be critical to work toward a lasting peace and a two-state solution — a truly safe and secure, democratic Jewish state of Israel and a state for the Palestinian people. That will ensure a better future for everyone in the region.”

Schneider and Manning had separately released individual statements on the issue.

Other staunchly pro-Isael Democrats also spoke out, without calling out Netanyahu.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said: “After the elimination of Hamas as a threat and the release of the hostages, a two-state solution is the path forward.”

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said on social media that “the only just outcome” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the peaceful coexistence” of an Israeli and a Palestinian state.

“I am under no illusion that a two-state solution will happen in the immediate future but to assert that it should NEVER happen — that either Jews or Palestinians should never have self-determination — is morally wrong,” Torres continued.

Separately, on Thursday, a group of 60 progressive House Democrats, led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken raising concerns that Israel seeks to permanently expel Palestinians from Gaza, and asking for a “clarification of the U.S. position on this question.”

From the other side of the aisle, there’s growing concern that President Donald Trump could scuttle efforts to advance the national security supplemental, given growing concerns that he’ll oppose the border policy deal that senators have been negotiating. Senate Democrats still insist, however, that they won’t separate Israel from Ukraine aid.

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