Joe Biden Takes Heat from Both Sides of the Aisle Over Israel Ultimatum

( – Lawmakers from both major political parties are finding common ground in their criticism of President Joe Biden over his recent ultimatum to Israel that continued military operations in Rafah would be met by the U.S. cutting off select weapons systems.

On Wednesday, May 8th, Biden appeared on CNN for an interview and told host Erin Burnett that the U.S. would stop supplying Israel with particular weapons due to the large amount of civilian casualties among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

At a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Defense Secretary Loyd Austin confirmed that shipments of “high-payload munitions” have been paused because Israel allegedly lacked a clear plan for minimizing casualties in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza that borders Egypt. Austin said that the U.S. would continue to make sure Israel “has the means to defend itself,” but that some shipments for “near-term security” had to be reviewed in the context of the ongoing siege of Rafah.

On CNN, Biden told Burnett that civilians in Gaza were killed “as a consequence of those bombs” and by other means employed by Israel against population centers. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have not yet entered Rafah, but the president said that if they do, the U.S. will not supply the weapons typically employed “to deal with Rafah” and other cities under siege.

Biden received backlash over the decision from both Democrats and Republicans.

One critic was GOP Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” recently and told host Dana Bash that the decision makes no sense. Vance said that while the White House claims too many Palestinian civilians are dying “on the one hand,” on the other, they are “depriving” Israel of the “precision-guided weapons” needed to “actually cut down on civilian casualties.”

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the ultimatum from Biden is “the worst decision” ever made in the history of the two nation’s relationship. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said it sent “a horrible message” and accused Biden of being “part of the pro-Hamas wing” of the Democratic Party now.

Although many Democrats did rally behind Biden, 26 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to him on Friday, May 10th, expressing deep concern over what kind of message Biden’s decision sends to Hamas and other “terrorist proxies.”

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