"Top Senator Urges Biden to Utilize All Diplomatic Tools to Pressure Israel Regarding Gaza"

 


 Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen has urged President Joe Biden to utilize his influence and legal authority to pressure Israel to change its approach to the conflict in Gaza. Van Hollen, representing Maryland, is part of a group of senators advocating for a halt in providing offensive weapons to Israel until it lifts restrictions on the delivery of essential supplies like food and medicine to Gaza, where a humanitarian crisis is escalating, with children facing starvation and famine.


"We need the president and the Biden administration to exert more pressure and utilize all available means of U.S. policy to prevent starvation deaths," Van Hollen emphasized in an interview.


Recently, Van Hollen and seven other senators penned a letter to President Biden, asserting that Israel's actions were in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act. This legislation includes a provision prohibiting the sale and transfer of military weapons to any nation that obstructs the distribution of U.S. aid.


The call for action comes amidst mounting pressure both domestically and internationally regarding what critics perceive as an inherent contradiction in U.S. policy toward Israel's conflict with Hamas. While the U.S. seeks to alleviate the worsening humanitarian crisis resulting from Israel's military campaign in Gaza, it continues to supply arms to the country.


Van Hollen criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for openly defying Biden's appeals to take more measures to protect civilians in Gaza and pursue a long-term resolution to the conflict, which would include establishing a Palestinian state.


"Prime Minister Netanyahu has obstructed the president's efforts to bring some hope amidst this dire situation," Van Hollen remarked.


Biden has increased his criticism of Israel's military offensive in recent weeks, expressing concern over civilian casualties in Gaza. However, he has not yet acted on Democratic calls to leverage future military aid to influence Israel's conduct in the conflict.


The United Nations has issued warnings about the dire situation in Gaza, where over a quarter of the population faces extreme deprivation, and famine is becoming increasingly likely. Israel's military campaign, launched in response to a Hamas attack, has resulted in significant destruction and casualties, predominantly among civilians.


Despite Israel's assurances of expanding aid supplies, humanitarian workers assert that the current level of aid falls far short of what is needed. The delivery of humanitarian aid has been impeded by Israeli restrictions, exacerbating the crisis.


Van Hollen's push for increased pressure on Israel is grounded in his firsthand observation of the challenges faced in delivering aid during his visit to the Rafah crossing in January. He highlighted lengthy inspection processes and arbitrary rejection of humanitarian goods, including vital medical supplies, as key obstacles.


The senator emphasized the urgent need for Israel to facilitate aid delivery and ensure the safety of aid workers in Gaza. Van Hollen's stance aligns with a growing sentiment among U.S. lawmakers, as evidenced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's recent speech calling for a change in leadership in Israel.


In their letter to President Biden, Van Hollen and his colleagues underscored the need for immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and emphasized the importance of holding Israel accountable for its actions under existing U.S. law. They urged the administration to evaluate Israel's compliance with its commitments regarding aid delivery and consider withholding military assistance if those commitments are not met.

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