Sen. Mark Kelly: Conditions on aid to Israel would be 'appropriate' if civilian death toll in Gaza doesn't drop

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Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., on Friday said it would be "appropriate" to condition future aid to Israel if Israeli leadership doesn't "do better" at preventing civilian deaths in Gaza.

"We never want to see innocent women, children, old people getting killed. That has happened at a pretty high rate here," Kelly said on NBC News' "Meet the Press" in a taped interview that aired Sunday.

"I’ve talked to the ambassador — the Israeli ambassador, Michael Herzog — about this specifically: that if we don’t see some changes, I think it is appropriate to put conditions on some of this aid," Kelly added, speaking just weeks after both chambers of Congress passed a foreign aid package that included $26 billion in assistance to Israel.

"They're getting more aid," Kelly said, but he added that the Israeli military also needs more targeted munitions, like "JDAM kits for Mark 80-series weapons, the kind of weapon that I used to drop in combat over Iraq."

He added, "If we see the same level of civilian casualties [after that], that is a big concern of mine."

Kelly tied his concerns about civilian casualties to rising concerns from aid groups around the world that humanitarian conditions in Gaza are growing dire.

In a separate interview for "Meet the Press," World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain told moderator Kristen Welker, "There is famine — full-blown famine — in the north [of Gaza], and it’s moving its way south."

Kelly, who said he speaks to McCain "a lot about this," said he's going to "continue to address it and push the Israelis to do better. If they do better, this also allows the option of more food aid getting in."

"If the Israelis can do better on the battlefield, reduce the civilian casualties, make fewer mistakes — or the goal is no mistakes — in how they’re conducting this, it would help get the food aid to the innocent Palestinians," he added.

Welker also asked Kelly about the issue of abortion access in his state, where legislators and Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs just repealed an 1864 abortion ban. Because of some quirks in Arizona state law, the ban may still go into effect for a time, despite the repeal.

"I think women in Arizona have been through a really tough time," Kelly told Welker before placing the blame for Arizona's ban squarely on former President Donald Trump.

"This is all on him that women in the state of Arizona don’t have the rights that they previously had," Kelly said.

"What we really need is national legislation to codify a woman’s right to make these decisions," Kelly added, before agreeing that he would favor repealing the filibuster to codify abortion rights into federal law.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, there has been no federal standard for abortions. President Joe Biden has called to codify the standards Roe set in 1973.

In order to do so, Democrats would have to win control of the Senate and the House and elect Biden to a second term. Even then, very little legislation moves through the Senate without the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

The likelihood of Democrats winning 60 seats in the Senate is slim to none, so the other alternative is for 50 senators to agree to make an exception to the filibuster for legislation on abortion.

"I feel we’re going to maintain control of the Senate [after the election]. And I think for issues like this, whether it’s choice or voting rights, I think it’s appropriate to reconsider what do we have to do to get those things across the finish line," the senator said.

Despite his confidence about maintaining control of Congress' upper chamber, Kelly did say he was "very concerned" about the possibility that Trump could try to overturn the presidential election results if he didn't win Arizona's Electoral College votes.

The state's attorney general last month indicted several former Trump aides for their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election there.

"I trust our judicial system that they’re going to go through a process. And however this turns out, we all have to accept what that process is," Kelly said.

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