The president distanced himself from fellow Democrats critical of the Jewish state
US President Joe Biden has disputed charges that Israel is an “apartheid” nation, instead calling it a “democracy” and a “friend” while touting billions in additional military support.
Speaking to Israel’s N12 News just before embarking on a trip to the Middle East on Wednesday, Biden was asked about “voices in the Democratic Party” which consider Israel an apartheid state and urge for an end to unconditional US aid.
“There are a few of them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend, and I think I make no apology,” he said in response, adding that his administration has devoted some $5 billion to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
— Yonit Levi (@LeviYonit) July 13, 2022
Though some Democrats, such as progressive lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), have repeatedly slammed Israeli policies toward the Palestinians as an example of apartheid, Biden insisted there is “no possibility” of Democrats or Republicans ever “walking away from Israel.”
In May, Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, penned a statement accusing the Israeli government of “ethnic cleansing” against Arabs, while fellow members of the left-leaning ‘squad’ argued that “apartheid states aren’t democracies” around the same time, apparently referring to Israel.
Just two months prior, the UN’s human rights body issued a report which concluded that Israel’s system “ensures the supremacy of one group over, and to the detriment of, the other,” particularly in the occupied West Bank, arguing that it meets the legal definition for apartheid. The report went on to state that Palestinians have been forced to “live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule,” echoing previous findings by rights groups such as Amnesty International and B’Tselem.
Not long after his interview with N12, Biden took off for his first presidential trip to the Middle East, making his initial stop in Israel. The commander in chief began the visit with high-level meetings with Israeli officials, which will be followed by a trip to the West Bank to sit down with the Palestinian leadership, with security expected to be the focus of the talks. He will then travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a regional summit, where he’ll meet with leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
During an arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday, Biden declared that ties between Americans and Israelis are “bone deep,” saying the bilateral relationship is “deeper and stronger” than it has ever been.