A swing-state Democratic senator and key Biden ally is sounding the alarm about the greater effect the Israel-Gaza conflict is beginning to have on the 2024 race.
Mark Warner of Virginia appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday and discussed the growing divide within his own party regarding the siege; many progressives are unifying around calls for a ceasefire, while most elected officials in the party remain supportive of Israel’s military campaign against Hamas.
The growing civilian death toll in Gaza has excacerbated the discontent within left-leaning spaces, and deep rifts are beginning to form between the centre-left and progressive wing within the party. Last weekend, massive crowds marched in Washington DC in support of an end to Israel’s military occupation of Gaza, and HuffPost reports that Democratic offices have been overwhelmed with a deluge of constituent calls demanding US support for a ceasefire.
Mr Warner cautioned both the president and the Israeli goverment that support for Israel was eroding quickly and could be a real problem for both Mr Biden and Israel’s standing in the west were more measures not taken to minimise civilian casualties.
“I think it has the potential to”, the senator responded, when asked by Margaret Brennan whether fractures within the Democratic Party over Israel endangered Mr Biden’s chances of victory in key swing states like Michigan which has a significant Muslim population.
“I think all of us are urging Israel, clearly Israel has the right to defend itself, has the right to take out Hamas, Hamas is holding many of the Palestinian people, using them as human shields. But we all saw those images on your show today. They’re horrific. And what Israel has to realize...this is a battle for hearts and minds for Israel, not just a military battle.”
More violence could erupt across the West Bank and elsewhere if those measures were not taken, he warned. And the rising death toll, the senator continued, threatened the ability of Israel’s allies in Congress to support the US ally with military aid.
Concerns about civilian casualities in Gaza escalated over the weekend as Doctors Without Borders issued a number of statements condemning Israeli military actions aroud the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where it said civilians were being fired upon and horrific conditions were being endured by Gazans sheltering there against the bombardment.
The group’s president also appeared on CBS on Sunday to echo those concerns, warning that the battle had rendered the Al-Shifa hospital nonfunctional and that deaths would climb as a result.
Mr Warner himself represents Virginia, a key battleground state in presidential elections. Fears about Mr Biden’s re-election chances became more pronounced earlier this month following the publication of a New York Times/Siena College poll indicating that the president currently trails his likely 2024 opponent, Donald Trump, among voters in several key swing states.
The president, who is 80, has resisted calls to step aside and let a younger Democrat represent their party in the upcoming election; still, many voters including a majority of those in his own party have expressed concerns that he is too old to run, according to recent polling.
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