Pelosi Joins Demand That Biden Halt Israel Arms Deal

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former House Speaker, has joined a group of more than 30 Democratic lawmakers in calling for Joe Biden to potentially halt future weapons sales to Israel. Their demands are based on the fallout from a recent Israeli airstrike in Gaza. That attack led to the deaths of seven workers from the World Central Kitchen who were providing humanitarian aid in Gaza.

In a Friday letter to the Biden administration, the group of Democrats pointed to their deep concern for the unintended consequences of military actions in Gaza. The World Central Kitchen incident, described as a “shockingly unacceptable mistake” by the lawmakers, was central to their argument. Pelosi, typically one of Joe Biden’s most vocal supporters, has now joined with the radical progressive wing of her party in this call for reassessing America’s relationship with Israel.

Israel’s military action in Gaza, which followed a deadly attack by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on October 7, 2023, that killed 1,200 people, has drawn international criticism. The humanitarian toll of the conflict, with over 33,000 Palestinian casualties reported by the Gaza health ministry and a looming famine as per United Nations warnings, has led to increased demands from leftist lawmakers that relations with Israel be reconsidered.

The Biden administration — currently deliberating on a new $18 billion military sale to Israel — is at a crossroads. This proposed package includes advanced fighter jets, air-to-air missiles, and munitions. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have admitted to the strike’s error, initiating a thorough investigation and taking disciplinary actions against senior officials involved.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden have expressed cautious optimism about Israel’s recent measures to mitigate civilian harm and improve humanitarian aid delivery. Yet, the Democratic lawmakers’ letter tells the administration they will vote to withhold arms transfers until a comprehensive, independent investigation into the airstrike and its civilian casualties is completed.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party’s stance poses potential implications for future congressional efforts to pass aid not only to Israel but also to other allies like Ukraine and Taiwan.