- By Sam Cabral and Nadine Yousif
- BBC News
House Republicans have introduced two separate measures to censure a Democrat amid bipartisan criticism of her comments on the Israel-Gaza war.
Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – the lone Palestinian American member of the US Congress – has accused President Joe Biden of supporting genocide in Gaza.
The White House and several Democrats have criticised the remarks.
Ms Tlaib said colleagues were “more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives”.
In a video posted to social media on Friday, Ms Tlaib directly addressed President Biden and called for a ceasefire.
The video features clips of Mr Biden stating his support for Israel, followed by clips of the dead and injured in Gaza and pro-Palestinian protests across the US.
“Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” titles at the end of the video read. “The American people won’t forget.”
The video also features people chanting the slogan “from the river to the sea”, which calls for Palestinian control of all land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including Israel.
That interpretation is disputed by some pro-Palestinian activists who say that most people chanting it are calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, not the destruction of Israel itself.
Representing a Michigan district that includes parts of Detroit and Dearborn, Ms Tlaib is one of just three Muslim lawmakers in Congress. She has long angered party leaders and pro-Israel groups with her unflinching criticism of Israel.
Defending her latest remarks, she said the slogan is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate”.
But the comment has drawn criticism from all corners, including from Democratic allies in her own state.
In a tweet to Ms Tlaib, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called the use of the phrase “hurtful”.
“I have supported and defended you countless times, even when you have said the indefensible, because I believed you to be a good person. Please retract this cruel and hateful remark,” Ms Nessel wrote.
Michigan Senate President Pro Tem Jeremy Moss, another Democrat, said Ms Tlaib’s comments were insensitive to Jewish people.
On Monday, Georgia Republican Rich McCormick introduced a resolution to censure Ms Tlaib for “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and dangerously promoting false narratives”.
Speaking on the House floor, Mr McCormick said the Michigan Democrat had “doubled down” on “a genocidal call to violence”.
Meanwhile, other progressive Democrats in Congress, like Pramila Jayapal from Washington, declined to side with Ms Tlaib’s comments.
Jon Finer, the White House deputy national security advisor, told ABC in an interview on Sunday that the Biden administration disagrees “with some of that messaging and with some of the terms used to describe this conflict”.
“We do not accept their application to this particular war even as we continue to raise our serious concerns about the toll that this is taking on civilian life,” he said.
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas attacks on 7 October. Since then, more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
The Biden administration has so far stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, but has become increasingly cautious in its language on the conflict as it seeks to balance competing interests.
On Monday, Politico said it had obtained a so-called dissent memo, in which State Department staffers demanded that the US support an immediate ceasefire.
It is unclear how many signatories the document has, but it calls on the government to “publicly criticise Israel’s violations of international norms” and “excessive use of force against Palestinians”.
Mr Biden has repeatedly said that he supports Israel’s right to defend itself, while pushing for pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid, food and water into Gaza.
His stance has been backed by many in the Democratic Party. But Mr Biden has also received criticism from Arab-American Democrats and young voters.
A recent poll showed only 17% of Arab-American voters plan to vote for Mr Biden in 2024, a drop from 59% in 2020.
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