Chris Van Hollen ‘not clear’ on Biden administration’s Israel stance

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) isn’t clear on Biden’s stance on Israel in the wake of the Israel Defense Forces attack on World Central Kitchen’s aid trucks in Gaza. 

Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced they would condition U.S. military aid to Israel with human rights, a move to hopefully boost support from center-left Senate Democrats. Still, in the wake of the attack on aid workers, Van Hollen said he “is not clear” on how the conditions are being enforced.

During an interview on NBC News’s Face the Nation, when asked if he understood the Biden administration’s policy on the issue, Van Hollen said, “I am not clear.” 

“I was glad to see the president, at least as reported out, finally say to President Netanyahu that ‘if you don’t follow these, you know my requests, there will be consequences,’” Van Hollen said. 

Van Hollen has been one of the most outspoken senators against the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. The consequences Biden warned Netanyahu about have yet to be detailed. 

“The president and the White House have yet to lay out what consequences they want to impose,” Van Hollen said. “We have had a situation where for months the president has made requests to the Netanyahu government, they have ignored those requests, and we [the United States] have sent more 2,000-pound bombs.” 

He said future partnership with Israel cannot be “a one-way street.”

“My view is the president needs to do what he said he was going to do, which is see if the Netanyahu government is going to implement these changes in terms of allowing more humanitarian assistance.” 

He said those benchmarks can be measured by “people not starving to death” and “people being able to get medical equipment.” Van Hollen still said “means to enforce” conditions must exist in order for the conditions of the aid to be successful.

“We have to make sure that when the president requests something that we have a means to enforce it,” Van Hollen said.

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Van Hollen said that until conditions are met, the U.S. should not send Israel aid. 

“Until those conditions are met, then no, we should not be sending more offensive weapons to Israel,” Van Hollen said. “Not to stop them permanently, but to effectively use our leverage, that’s what we’re asking the president of the United States to do.”

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