Tensions within the Democratic Party are escalating over the issue of aid to Israel, as differing perspectives emerge on the conditions that should be attached to such assistance. The disagreement came to light recently when Florida Democrat Representative Jared Moskowitz criticized Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders over his call to tie Israeli aid to specific actions in Gaza.
Sanders, who is part of the Democratic caucus, had earlier released a statement suggesting President Biden should compel Israel to limit its West Bank settlements and commit to not imposing a long-term blockade on Gaza before the U.S. dispenses aid. In response, Moskowitz promised to oppose these conditions if they were included in legislation presented to the House of Representatives, or alternatively, propose tighter conditions on aid to Gaza.
“I am absolutely for humanitarian aid to Gaza. But if Bernie Sanders puts political requirements on the Aid to Israel, I will work in the House to remove those conditions or condition Aid to Gaza that requires the removal of Hamas,” Moskowitz stated. He went on to urge, “Let’s not play this game. Send the aid to both.”
The conflict in the Middle East has intensified recently, with Hamas militants launching an attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,400 deaths, predominantly civilians. In retaliation, Israel has bombarded Gaza and initiated a ground invasion. The Gazan government, under the control of Hamas, reported that the region’s death toll has reached 13,000 since October 7.
The issue of aid to Israel has further deepened the divisions within the Democratic Party, particularly between new progressives and the traditional left-wing establishment. A group of hard-left Democratic lawmakers deviated from their party line to vote against a resolution condemning antisemitism and support for Hamas on school campuses. This was followed by moderate Democrats joining Republicans to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, over her comments about the war.
Sanders reiterated his stance, stating, “The Netanyahu government, or hopefully a new Israeli government, must understand that not one penny will be coming to Israel from the U.S. unless there is a fundamental change in their military and political positions.”
Support for Sanders’ position came from New York Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who agreed with the idea of conditional aid, stating, “The United States has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that public resources do not facilitate gross violations of human rights and international law.”