The idea was first floated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who called for using “the substantial leverage we have with Israel,” in reference to the billions of dollars the U.S. provides to the country each year, in return for Israel ending its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and committing to not occupy Gaza long-term, among other things.
“The blank check approach must end,” Sanders wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. “The United States must make clear that while we are friends of Israel, there are conditions to that friendship and that we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency.”
President Joe Biden on Friday called the idea a “worthwhile thought,” before adding: “We have to take this a piece at a time.”
Sullivan echoed Biden, noting that the current approach the president has taken with regards to the Middle East conflict, which includes “direct presidential diplomacy behind closed doors with the Israelis and with our Arab partners” is working, as proven by the release of hostages by Hamas during the truce deal.
But, notably Sullivan did not exclude the possibility of Biden securing concessions from Israelis before delivering more support in the future.
Some Democrats have also expressed the support for making the call on Israel.
“We regularly condition our aid to allies based upon compliance with U.S. law and international law,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “And, so, I think it’s very consistent with the ways in which we have dispensed aid, especially during wartime, to allies, for us to talk about making sure that the aid we give Ukraine or the aid we give Israel is used in accordance with human rights laws.”
A temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that the U.S. and Qatar helped broker is set to expire after Monday, but negotiators are pushing for its extension.
The militant group on Sunday released a third group of hostages, including one American, 4-year-old Abigail Edan whose parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that prompted the conflict.
“What she endured is unthinkable,” Biden said of Edan.
A fourth group of hostages is expected to be released Monday.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled he would be willing to allow an extension of the truce to enable more hostages to be freed from captivity, he vowed his forces will resume fighting Hamas once the cease-fire is over.