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Nervous Democrats Press Biden on Gaza Ahead of State of the Union

U.S.Nervous Democrats Press Biden on Gaza Ahead of State of the Union

Follow live updates on Biden’s State of the Union address.

Mainstream Democrats, watching the politics around Israel’s war in Gaza shift against them, are pressing President Biden to become far more outspoken in his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government and far more upfront in his demands for a long-term solution to the conflict that includes a Palestinian state.

At the outset of the war, with memories fresh from Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel that took around 1,200 lives, Jewish Democrats who had grown restive more than a year ago over Mr. Netanyahu’s governance largely rallied around Mr. Biden as he sided firmly with Israel.

But as the death toll in Gaza rises inexorably, many are pleading with the president not so much to change policies but to become the voice of his administration’s own demands for a Ramadan cease-fire, more humanitarian aid, more restraint of Jewish settler violence and a long-term peace that includes a Palestinian state.

“We are hoping that a strategy for peace and an end to this nightmare will be laid out at the State of the Union,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a prominent Jewish Democrat, said on Wednesday. “Nobody can question Biden’s commitment to the security of Israel, and nobody can question his commitment over the course of his career to human rights and international law. Now is the time when the world needs to see American leadership for peace.”

Mr. Raskin, returning to earlier criticism of Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, added, “Democrats feel we don’t take orders from right-wing politicians in America, and we shouldn’t be taking orders from right-wing politicians in another country.”

More than a dozen Jewish Democrats in the House spearheaded a critical letter late last month demanding Mr. Biden “redouble” his efforts to achieve a cease-fire that facilitates more humanitarian aid to starving Gazans. Many of the same lawmakers on Wednesday warned against an Israeli strike on the city of Rafah, along the Gaza-Egypt border, where hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians have sheltered.

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