Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended her party’s strong support of Israel’s counterattack on Hamas on Thursday, pushing back against recent dissent among some of her party’s voters and protesters outside her San Francisco home.
She said the forceful response by President Biden and most House Democrats should not detract from the other Democratic priorities. The party’s leaders remain committed, she argued, to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to calling for Israel to abide by the laws of war and to defending the rights of Muslim communities in the United States.
“Hamas made an assault. Supposing they came into a rave here and killed over 200 people and kidnapped others and killed a thousand other people going into their homes. This was outrageous. Now, how Israel deals with it in terms of not losing the lives of others in Gaza, they have to honor the rules of war going forward,” Pelosi said. “For a political purpose, should we have said something different about Hamas? No. It would not have been possible.”
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A poll by the Economist and YouGov found this week that 22 percent of Democrats want to increase military aid to Israel, compared with 48 percent of Republicans. In contrast, 45 percent of Democrats want to increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians, compared with 8 percent of Republicans. Biden has proposed more than $14 billion in emergency aid to Israel, a move that is broadly supported within the House Democratic caucus.
A separate national poll by Quinnipiac University found that 26 percent of Democrats disapprove of Biden’s response to the war between Israel and Hamas, slightly higher than the 17 percent of Democrats who disapprove of his job performance overall. Among all voters, 42 percent approve of Biden’s response to the conflict and 46 percent disapprove.
Pelosi spoke at a breakfast organized by the Democratic group Third Way to discuss the political threat of a potential third-party bid by the group No Labels, which she said threatens Biden’s reelection and the nation’s future.
Pelosi noted that House Democrats had previously voted to support an independent Palestinian state, and that a bill supporting the two-state solution would be likely to pass again if Republicans put it on the floor. She also reiterated her past criticism of the settlement policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I have gone to Israel time and again, as speaker and even before or as leader. I have always visited with the Palestinians. The only answer for peace there is to have a two-state solution,” she said.
“We can’t say what we don’t believe,” she added. “We believe that 1,400 people [were] killed by Hamas, who is committed to the destruction of the state of Israel and is a terrorist organization [and] cannot be allowed to do this again.”
Scott Clement contributed to this report.