WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden is facing a significant decline in approval ratings, hitting the lowest point of his presidency at 40 per cent. The latest national NBC News poll reveals widespread disapproval of his handling of the crisis in Gaza, particularly among Democrats and young voters.

Senator Bernie Sanders and others in Congress are now advocating for conditioning US aid to Israel based on a shift in the “military and political positions” of the Israeli government, a stance that was previously unthinkable.

Sanders expressed his concerns, stating, “While Israel has the right to go after Hamas, Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government does not have the right to wage almost total warfare against the Palestinian people.”

The decline in Biden’s support is most notable among Democrats, with a majority believing that Israel has gone too far in its military actions in Gaza. Among voters aged 18 to 34, a striking 70 per cent disapprove of Biden’s handling of the crisis.

The NBC News poll conducted from Nov 10-14, over a month after the Oct 7 raid and the subsequent Gaza crisis, highlights the public’s sentiments. While 47pc of all voters, including Republicans, believe Israel is defending its interests, 30pc think Israel’s military actions have gone too far and are not justified.

Among Democratic voters, 51pc believe Israel has gone too far, contrasting with 27pc who view Israel’s military actions as justified. Senator Sanders, in response to the ongoing crisis, not only condemned the bloodshed but also proposed measures to facilitate a “significant pause in military operations.”

These measures include ending indiscriminate bombing, allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, opposing long-term Israeli re-occupation or blockade of Gaza, and addressing settler violence and expansion in the West Bank. Sanders also reiterated his commitment to broad peace talks for a two-state solution.

There is growing opposition to Israel’s aggression, and the Biden administration’s perceived inability to halt the violence is impacting liberal and left-leaning politicians in the United States. This sentiment has led to calls for specific actions, including potential conditions on future military aid to Israel.

President Biden himself has expressed concern about settler attacks on Palestinians, urging an end to such violence. Reports indicate that Democrats in the House and Senate are considering debates on imposing conditions on future military aid to Israel, including potential congressional action.

Discussions on restricting humanitarian aid to Gaza triggered debates on conditioning military aid to Israel. Senator Sanders hosted a lunch where conditions on military aid were raised, and subsequent statements from Sanders supported conditioning US aid to Israel, outlining specific conditions related to the present situation.

The media reports an ‘erosion’ in traditional Democratic support for Israel’s military actions, adding potential complications for President Biden’s stance. Talks between the US and Israel on establishing safe zones in southern Gaza and discussions between Israel and Hamas have also been part of these ongoing deliberations.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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