Israeli weapons damaged Iran's air defenses without detection, officials said – World

A group of left-leaning House Democrats is calling on its colleagues to oppose a $26 billion aid package for Israel, hoping to maximize the number of “no” votes from the party and send a warning to President Biden about the depth of discontent among his political coalition. for his support of Israel's strategy in Gaza.

Framing the upcoming vote as a make-or-break moral choice similar to Congress's vote to authorize and fund the Iraq war, House progressive leaders are working to rally a large bloc of Democratic opposition to the aid measure, which is expected to pass. Saturday and will become law in the coming days.

“In the wake of that vote, people came up much later and said, 'We shouldn't have let this go through,'” said Representative Pramila Jaipal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The decades-old debate over Iraq. “And I think this is the moment.”

Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, called it a “defining vote,” adding, “We're either going to participate in the killing, or we're not.”

There is little doubt that the bill, which would send about $13 billion in military aid to Israel as it continues to attack Gaza, will pass the House, along with money for Ukraine, Taiwan and other American allies.

But progressive Democrats estimate that 40 to 60 members of their party could oppose it on the House floor Saturday. That would be an interesting signal from Congress, where ironclad bipartisan support for Israel has long been the norm. And it will highlight the deepening divisions the war in Gaza has sown within the Democratic Party, even as more Democrats, including Mr. Biden, have begun to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approach to the conflict and call on him to better protect civilians.

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The legislation would allocate $5 billion for Israel's defense capabilities and $9 billion for “global humanitarian assistance” to civilians in Gaza. But Israel will not place more conditions on how it can use American military aid, or block future arms transfers from the United States, as a growing number of Democrats have demanded.

Democrats who are leading the push against the Israel aid bill say they strongly support the Jewish state and its right to self-defense and will vote to send military aid that supports Israel's defense capabilities, such as Iron Dome, replenishing David's sling. and iron beam defense systems. They also condemned the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas that prompted the war, and said that Hamas hostages must be released.

But they argued that authorizing more offensive weapons without conditions would be an unstable moral and political position that would be tantamount to authorizing Mr. Netanyahu's war trials, including plans to attack Rafah over the objections of the Biden administration. More than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, according to the health ministry there, and the population faces a hunger crisis.

“I understand the need for defensive weapons for Israel, especially in light of the Iranian attack,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, who ran his first campaign on an anti-war platform and helped lead efforts to end US involvement in the war. Yemen “but there is no justification for providing bombs and weapons to Netanyahu to continue a war that is killing thousands of innocent Palestinian women and children in Gaza.”

Saturday's vote will recall a similar situation in 2007, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, Split a piece of spending law To allow Democrats to register their opposition to funding the Iraq War while supporting a domestic funding bill. Speaker Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana, similarly divided the foreign aid package considered Saturday to get each element across the finish line in the face of distinct coalitions of opposition to different pieces of the bill.

In a critical test vote Friday, the House agreed 316 to 94 to carry the package, with 39 Democrats — mostly progressives — joining 55 Republicans in opposition.

“This is a moment for members of Congress who support a safe and secure Israel to send a message that giving Netanyahu more offensive weapons is not the path to peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians,” said Representative Becca Balint, Democrat of Vermont and the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a cease-fire. , in an interview. “Giving Netanyahu more offensive weapons at this point, I believe, condones the destruction of Gaza that we've seen in the last six months. And this is a green light for the Rafah attack.”

Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who led opposition to funding the Iraq war in 2007, said the conversation among Democrats in Congress opposing continued U.S. support for the Gaza war is “unparalleled” to what took place 17 years ago.

“We may well be voting on whether a wider war breaks out and American weapons kill thousands of innocent people,” Mr Doggett said.

Democrats who oppose the aid package for Israel represent a minority in their caucus. But they see a “no” vote as part of Mr. Biden's strategy to press for conditional aid and to stop future offensive arms transfers. Through numerous meetings, text chains and conversations with the administration, they have worked to change the president's view on Israel, where Mr. Biden has highlighted electoral risks among voters who helped propel him to the White House in 2020 and are now angry at him. War management

“The only way to correct a course is for a large majority in the Democratic caucus to say that it must be moved,” Ms. Balint said.

Representative Dan Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, who has been pushing Mr. Biden to cut off offensive weapons from Israel, said a big “no” vote would strengthen the president's hand.

“It helps the administration that a number of Democrats can express themselves in this way,” he said.

Representative Greg Cassar, Democrat of Texas, said he hoped that a substantial number of Democrats opposing the bill would give the Biden administration more leverage to influence the Israeli government's approach to the war.

“I hope this vote will show the world that there is a really significant part of the United States that does not want to see an extended and widespread war,” he said.

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