Prominent US lawmaker calls Israel an ‘apartheid state’

Prominent US lawmaker calls Israel an ‘apartheid state’

US progressive Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have criticised the Biden administration’s support for Israel amid its Gaza bombardment.

Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the US House of Representatives, is part of a cadre of progressive legislators who have been increasingly critical of US support for Israel and have called for the administration of President Joe Biden to take a harder line amid the most recent escalation.

“I don’t care how any spokesperson tries to spin this,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday along with a video of an Israeli air strike demolishing a building that had house media offices, including those of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press.

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“If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to?” she wrote.

In a following tweet, she added: “Apartheid states aren’t democracies.”

US Representative Rashida Tlaib, who in an impassioned speech on the House floor on Friday, decried “Israel’s apartheid government”, also tweeted the statement, as did Congresswoman Cori Bush.

While rights groups, most recently Human Rights Watch, have increasingly said Israeli treatment of Palestinians amounts to racist governance that favours Israeli Jews over Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the label is rarely used by US legislators.

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Still, while steadfast support for Israel remains the overwhelming norm in Congress, public scepticism of US policy has become more prevalent among legislators.

As of Sunday, Israeli attacks had killed more than 180 Palestinians, including at least 52 children, in the Gaza Strip since the escalation began on Monday. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have killed at least 13 Palestinians.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stressed Israel’s right to defend itself while dodging criticism of Israeli actions over the last week.

In a readout of a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, the White House said Biden “noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children”.

The White House added that Biden “raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection”.

Some prominent legislators have also seized on the escalation to question the approximately $4bn in aid the US gives Israel annually with virtually no conditions.

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“We can no longer be apologists for the right-wing Netanyahu government and its undemocratic and racist behaviour,” Senator Bernie Sanders wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Friday.

“We must change course and adopt an evenhanded approach, one that upholds and strengthens international law regarding the protection of civilians, as well as existing US law holding that the provision of US military aid must not enable human rights abuses,” he wrote.

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