House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) slammed members of his party Tuesday for pushing a “false narrative” about Israel and pushing policies that would empower terrorists.
Hoyer said that “extremists” in the Democratic Party are undermining the United States’ relationship with its ally Israel. The House majority leader also condemned Hamas, a Palestinian terror group in the Gaza Strip, for using civilians in Gaza as human shields against Israeli counterstrikes.
“I continue to be saddened by the loss of innocent civilian life in Israel and Gaza occurring as a result of Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks. Israel has the right to defend itself, as any nation does when its civilians are targeted by violence from a terrorist organization whose aim is nothing short of mass murder and the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state,” Hoyer said in a statement.
“Democrats have, for decades, been defenders of Israel because the Jewish state’s rebirth was an inspiring act of progressive justice,” he continued. “We must not allow extremists to hijack important discussions about securing a better future for Israelis and Palestinians by promoting a false narrative that denies the historical and unbroken connection of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.”
Hoyer called for a “durable” ceasefire, adding that Hamas must be held responsible for the deaths of civilians it put at risk by bombing Israel and by hiding its weapons and bases inside civilian areas.
“No one should have to live under the threat of attack, and Hamas must be held accountable for its war crimes, which include the use of civilian infrastructure for launching its attacks against civilian targets,” Hoyer said. “Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties on both sides of the border as a result.”
The House leader resisted calls within his party to condition military financial aid to Israel led by progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Hoyer said such conditions “would only embolden Hamas.”
On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez partnered with fellow progressives such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in an attempt to block the U.S. from selling weapons to Israel. The progressive lawmakers said that U.S. arms and aid should be used as leverage to force Israel to “respect basic Palestinian rights.”
In statements opposing the sale of U.S. weapons to Israel, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in Gaza by killing Palestinian civilians.
Israeli has launched numerous strikes against pseudo-civilian targets such as hospitals and schools in Gaza because Hamas militants have set up military installations in those places and used civilians as human shields. Israel has taken a number of steps to limit civilian casualties in these strikes, such as using “knock bombs” to warn people of an imminent airstrike, dropping pamphlets, or calling Palestinians and telling them to evacuate.
The United States has provided regular military aid to Israel for decades since at least 1973, according to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. Under former President Bill Clinton, the United States and Israel signed the first of three memoranda of understanding which said that the U.S. would provide military financial aid to Israel and in return, Israel would spend most of those funds on weapons and technology from the United States, supporting U.S. jobs. In the latest agreement signed under former President Barack Obama in 2016, Israel agreed to spend all of the U.S. aid on U.S. products.