Democratic Senator Hollen: Netanyahu gives Biden the finger and we send more bombs

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Democratic Senator Hollen: Netanyahu gives Biden the finger and we send more bombs

The Biden administration faces growing doubts about President Joe Biden‘s ability to influence his Israeli counterpart, Binyamin Netanyahu, to pursue a path that minimizes civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.

Senator Chris Van Hollen expressed these doubts on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. The Democratic Senator from Maryland, where the President will visit in the coming days following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, said the Israeli Prime Minister has “pulled a fast one” on the US President when it comes to the Israeli military’s assault on Gaza and the reported planned operation in Rafah. Rafah, a refuge for millions of refugees fleeing the conflict in the north, is currently overflowing with civilians.

The senator, who reacted strongly against the US policy of providing unconditional arms to the Israeli government, did not vote against the additional aid package that combined military aid to Israel and Ukraine in February.

“Netanyahu continues to give the US President the finger, and we are sending more bombs,” Van Hollen said on Sunday.

He said Israel’s “right” and “duty” to defend itself after the October 7 attack “does not extend to unnecessarily restricting aid to Gaza.”

The senator continued:

The Maryland Senator joined the entire Democratic caucus in the US Senate (with the exception of Bernie Sanders) in voting for an additional $95 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel in February. At the time, however, he called on the President to hold the Netanyahu government “more accountable for its actions” and claimed that the prime minister had so far “mostly ignored Biden’s requests.”

His latest criticism comes on the heels of the Biden administration’s partial rollback of sanctions on radical right-wing settlers in Israel accused of violent attacks on Palestinians and illegal land grabs; a letter from the US Treasury Department clarified that Israeli banks do not need to freeze the accounts of sanctioned individuals to do business with the US.

The sanctions angered members of Netanyahu’s radical right-wing coalition, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich, who has been accused of using racist language and denying the existence of the Palestinian people, vowed to take retaliatory actions targeting the West Bank and Gaza economies in response to the US measures.

The Israeli military offensive on Gaza has so far killed more than 31,000 people, including thousands of children. International aid groups have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the region and the possibility of widespread famine.

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