On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN International’s “State of the Race,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said that he has been pushing the Biden administration to get “commitments” from the Israeli government that they’ll fight Hamas the way the Biden administration wants them to.
Van Hollen stated, “[W]hat I’ve been doing is working closely with the Biden administration to see if they can secure assurances from the Netanyahu government on how this war will be conducted going forward. I think all of us support the goal of eliminating Hamas as a military threat and their ability to govern Gaza. But, as Secretary Blinken has said, how they conduct this war is important. And in the phase against the northern part of Gaza, we saw really unacceptably high levels of civilian casualties. And we see — saw a near total siege, [they] cut off water, food, medicine, which is why the Biden administration has said that if Israel is going to conduct operations in the south, especially against Khan Younis, which is the second biggest city in Gaza, that it cannot be the way that the operations were conducted in the north. So, my goal is to get assurances and commitments from the Netanyahu regime — the Netanyahu coalition on this very important point.”
Host Kasie Hunt then cut in to ask, “So, assurances, but not necessarily conditions from Congress?”
Van Hollen responded, “Well, again, what we’re doing is, right now, working with the Biden administration that has been urging the Netanyahu coalition on the way forward. But, what we’re watching here is whether they secure commitments. Because, at the end of the day, I do think we need an approach that gets commitments. And so, we’re having an ongoing conversation as [to] what’s the best way to secure commitments, not, we hear you and we’re thinking about it, but commitments. The Biden team asserts what its expectations are. But, we think that they should be able to hear more than what our expectations are, but clear commitments from the Netanyahu coalition as to the way forward.”
Hunt then asked, “Is this the White House preference in this package? They want to be able to do this with commitments instead of conditions. I know you met with Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, earlier this week. Did he tell you that the White House would prefer not to have conditions from Congress on this aid?”
Van Hollen answered, “I’m going to let the administration speak for itself. But, what I will say on this point is, what they said is that the Biden administration is not seeking conditions. In other words, they’re not asking for conditions. But, as to their overall view of what Congress does, they’ll have to answer that question.”
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