26 House Democrats tell White House, ‘We cannot undermine our ally, Israel’
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, listen
as Margaret Grun Kibben, the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, leads a prayer during a vigil for Israel
on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, Oct. 12, 2023. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Ron Kampeas
May 10, 2024

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Twenty-six Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have asked the White House for a briefing on why President Joe Biden suspended the delivery of large bombs to Israel, the latest sign of fractures in the party over Israel policy. Rep. Mark Veasey who represents District 33 in North Texas and Vincente Gonzales who represents District 34 which encompasses the Gulf Coast between Corpus Christi and Matamoros were Texas’ lone co-signatories.

“We are deeply concerned about the message the Administration is sending to Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist proxies by withholding weapons shipments to Israel, during a critical moment in the negotiations,” said the letter sent Friday to Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, referring to U.S.-led efforts to broker a ceasefire to allow for the release of hostages still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel has said that in exchange, it would release Palestinian security prisoner.

Earlier this week, Biden confirmed that he was suspending delivery of 2,000- and 500 pound bombs because he did not want Israel to use them as its forces invaded Rafah, a city on Gaza’s border with Egypt that Israel says is the last major redoubt of Hamas forces.

“With democracy under assault around the world, we cannot undermine our ally Israel, especially in her greatest hour of need,” said the letter spearheaded by Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who is Jewish. “America’s commitments must always be ironclad.”

Other Jewish signatories included pro-Israel mainstays Reps. Brad Schneider of Illinois; Jared Moskowitz, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel of Florida; Kathy Manning of North Carolina and Greg Landsman of Ohio.

The letter underscores persistent support among a sizable portion of the Democratic caucus for for the position advanced in recent days by the pro-Israel community — that Biden broke a decades-long taboo by suspending the weapons delivery.

By contrast, Biden’s announcement drew praise from progressives who have for months been pressing him to leverage aid to Israel as a means of curbing casualties in the war. One of the most outspoken is Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Jewish Vermonter who is the de facto leader of congressional progressives.

“Given the unprecedented humanitarian disaster that Netanyahu’s war has created in Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of children face starvation, President Biden is absolutely right to halt bomb delivery to this extreme, right-wing Israeli government,” Sanders said Wednesday in a statement.

Hamas terrorists launched the war on Oct. 7 when they massacred approximately 1,200 people in Israel and took some 250 hostage. Israel launched counterstrikes, and officials at the Hamas -run Gaza health ministry say more than 34,00 Palestinians have been killed in the war.

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