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House Republicans Warn Biden Against Aid Cuts to Israel

GOP letter signals growing concerns Biden admin will cave to anti-Israel leftist demands

Joe Biden
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• May 19, 2021 6:40 pm

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The Biden administration must resist calls from the Democratic Party's left-flank to cut and condition U.S. security assistance to Israel, more than 100 congressional Republicans told the White House in a letter that signals increasing concerns the administration will cave to radical voices demanding a wholesale reassessment of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

"We continue to oppose any reductions in funding or added conditions on security assistance, which would be detrimental to Israel's ability to defend itself against all threats, including the current assault," the lawmakers wrote in a letter Wednesday led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a copy exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The lawmakers also pressed the administration to guarantee that it will help Israel resupply its stock of Iron Dome missiles, which have been used repeatedly during the ongoing conflict to destroy Hamas rockets in mid-air before they land on Israeli cities.

The letter comes amid a fierce debate in the Democratic Party over its support for Israel. Left-wing lawmakers such as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) have repeatedly accused Israel of targeting civilians and using excessive force. They have battled with pro-Israel members of their party, as well as the Biden administration, which they view as being overly supportive of the Jewish state. Progressive lawmakers also have called for sanctions on Israel and for U.S. aid to the country to either be suspended or conditioned. Ocasio-Cortez and several allies moved late Wednesday to forward a congressional measure that would block U.S. arms sales to Israel.

Republicans, and even some Democrats, are increasingly concerned that far-left anti-Israel voices will force the party's leaders to consider walking back support for Israel. In one example, House Democrats overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday evening against legislation that would apply sanctions on Hamas, the Iranian-backed terror group that is primarily responsible for the ongoing terror attacks on Israel.

Democratic Party leaders also intervened this week to thwart an effort by House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) to delay more than $700 million in U.S. military aid to Israel that the Biden administration approved earlier this year. The move was seen as unprecedented for a committee that has historically enjoyed broad, bipartisan support for Israel and its security alliance with America.

In their letter, House Republicans petition the Biden administration to ensure it does not cave to mounting pressure from anti-Israel activists inside and outside Congress. As a gesture that it understands how pressing the situation is, the administration should work with Congress immediately to resupply the Iron Dome missile system, the GOP lawmakers wrote.

"The Iron Dome defense system, a product of U.S.-Israel security cooperation, has saved countless lives by intercepting terrorist rockets and preventing further casualties and escalation," the letter states. "During prior conflicts, Congress and the administration have acted quickly together to resupply Israel to continue its effective operations. We stand ready to work with you if a determination is made that additional munitions or materiel are urgently needed."

The GOP lawmakers also raise concerns about Iran's role in the conflict. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Gaza Strip-based terror group, are primarily armed and funded by Iran. As the Biden administration seeks to reenter the 2015 nuclear accord and lift sanctions on Tehran, it should consider how this money will be used, they say.

"The U.S. government previously estimated that Iran has historically provided up to $100 million annually in combined support to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command," the lawmakers wrote. "It is imperative that the United States make a concerted effort to cut off this pipeline of support to prevent future bombardments on Israel."

They also call for increased U.S. sanctions on Hamas and its affiliates.

Published under: Iran, Israel