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Democrats Fight Over Aid to Israel: 'Progressives' Want to Limit the IDF

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). (AP Photo)

Leading Democrats in the party's progressive wing are warning they will oppose a $14 billion White House aid package to Israel if it does not put constraints on how the Israeli Defense Forces fight Hamas. 

The divide among Democrats is said to be driven by not only Arab-American and Muslim voters, but by the generational split that has younger Democrats more opposed to helping Israel. 

In an op-ed published by The New York Times, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote, "The United States must make clear that while we are friends of Israel, there are conditions to that friendship and that we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency." 

Sanders wants an end to what he calls indiscriminate bombing, a significant pause in the fighting to allow more humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians; even allowing them to return to their homes, no long-term Israeli occupation of Gaza, an end to settler violence in the West Bank, and a freeze on settlement expansion. 

Sanders has been calling for restraint by the Israeli military ever since the Hamas attack. 

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slider img 2While President Biden suggested putting conditions on aid to Israel might be a good idea, he noted it took arms and diplomacy to achieve the release of hostages, telling reporters, "Well, I think that's a worthwhile thought. But I don't think if I had started with that we would have got where we are today."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) appearing on NBC's Meet the Press did not sound as if he would oppose putting some conditions on U.S. aid to Israel, saying, "I wouldn't propose it, but I think it does accurately reflect U.S. policy," 

But while some in Congress may support restrictions on aid, the far left wing of the Democratic Party may push for more than most members will accept.

The demands by progressives have not only sparked an intra-party conflict with pro-Israel Democrats, they threaten an aid package that now only has a short window for passage before years' end. 

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