‘Do Palestinians have a right to survive?’ AOC makes impassioned speech against Biden policy on Israel crisis

<p>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she walks past reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on 13 May, 2021.</p> (REUTERS)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she walks past reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on 13 May, 2021.

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Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed President Joe Biden’s response to escalating tensions in Gaza, asking if “Palestinians have a right to survive?”

Speaking on the House floor on Thursday, she said: “The president and many other figures this week stated that Israel has a right to defend itself, and this is a sentiment that’s echoed across this body. But do Palestinians have a right to survive? Do we believe that? And if so, we have a responsibility to that.”

After a call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Mr Biden had said that he expects the violence to end “sooner rather than later,” and that the nation has a right to defend itself.

The Biden administration is working with Egypt to push for de-escalation, according to an Axios report.

In her address on Thursday, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that “the United States must acknowledge its role in the injustice and human rights violations of Palestinians. This is not about both sides. This is about an imbalance of power.”

She went on to say: “We have to have the courage to name our contributions and sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the reason we don’t do that, if we’re scared to stand up to the incarceration of children in Palestine is because maybe it’ll force us to confront the incarceration of children here on our border.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez had previously also hit out at Mr Biden’s statement about Israel’s right to defend itself.

She had said: “Blanket statements like these [with] little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle of violence – namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa – dehumanize Palestinians [and] imply the US will look the other way at human rights violations. It’s wrong.”

This comes amid an escalation of conflict with Israeli military firing artillery shells on Friday as rockets rained down on Israel. The death toll in Gaza has gone up. At least 119 Palestinians have been killed in the violence this week, with 31 children among the dead, according to Gaza’s health ministry. At least 830 others have also been wounded.

Initial reports said that Israeli army had launched a possible ground invasion, but they were later denied. Israeli military affairs correspondents who are briefed regularly by the armed forces said it was not a ground invasion, according to Reuters.

The United Nations Security Council will publicly discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian militants on Sunday. The council has met privately twice this week about the hostilities, but has so far been unable to agree on a public statement, diplomats told Reuters.

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