Tlaib Confronts Biden on Israel, Saying Support Enables Crimes Against Palestinians


Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, confronted President Biden on Tuesday over his support for Israel amid its bombing campaign against Hamas in Gaza, urging him to stop enabling a government she said was committing crimes against Palestinians, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange.

During a conversation on a tarmac in Detroit, where Mr. Biden had arrived to visit a Ford factory near her congressional district, Ms. Tlaib echoed a scathing speech she delivered last week on the House floor, telling the president that he must do more to protect Palestinian lives and human rights, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe her remarks.

Her comments came as Israel has scaled up its bombing campaign in the past week. Among Democrats in Congress, attitudes toward Israel have grown more skeptical as the party base expresses concern about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and several high-profile progressive lawmakers including Ms. Tlaib have become increasingly vocal about criticizing Mr. Biden for his stance.

There was no immediate comment on the exchange from the White House.

Mr. Biden has expressed support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, but he has not demanded one, and he has continued to assert that Israel has a right to defend itself.

Ms. Tlaib, who could be seen making her case to Mr. Biden as she greeted him at the steps of Air Force One, told the president that the status quo was only enabling more killing, and that his current policy of unconditional support for the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not working, the aide said.

Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, whose district is home to the Ford F-150 factory that Mr. Biden was visiting and who also greeted him on his arrival, later said the exchange on the tarmac was part of “an important dialogue.”

“It was a very compassionate, honest discussion,” she said in a brief interview. “But the president doesn’t deal with these kinds of issues in public, and he doesn’t negotiate in public.”

Mr. Biden shook Ms. Tlaib’s hand after the conversation, and later praised the congresswoman during his public remarks at the factory in Dearborn.

“I admire your intellect, I admire your passion and I admire your concern for so many other people,” said Mr. Biden, before referring to Ms. Tlaib’s grandmother, Muftia Tlaib, who lives in the West Bank. “From my heart, I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you, I’ll do everything to see that they are.”

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