Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib confronted President Joe Biden on an airport tarmac during his visit to Detroit on Tuesday, NPR reports.
Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent to be elected to Congress, criticized Biden for his response to Israel’s role in escalating the violence in Gaza and said Palestinians must be protected.
"Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated," Tlaib told Biden, according to one of her aides. "The U.S. cannot continue to give the right-wing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians. Atrocities like bombing schools cannot be tolerated, much less conducted with U.S.-supplied weapons."
The confrontation took place after it was reported that the Biden administration approved a $735 million arms sale to Israel this month.
"Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights," the aide said.
At least 12 Israelis and 219 Palestinians have been killed in the recent fighting and hundreds of Palestinian homes and businesses have been destroyed.
Biden greeted by protesters:
Biden traveled to a Ford factory in Dearborn where Arab-American protesters condemned his response to the escalating conflict.
Hundreds of protesters turned out, many of whom blamed Biden for contributing to the violence.
“We know that Biden is here in Dearborn at the Ford plant so we want him to hear our voices and hear that he needs to ceasefire, cut the funding that is happening right now,” protester Zeyna Salloum told The Guardian. “He’s supporting the bombing of civilians with American money.”
The protest was attended by Abdul El-Sayed, a Democrat running for governor.
“I hope that this ends peacefully immediately,” he said. “My worry is that once the immediate atrocities being committed end that we will walk away and the same kinds of policies of displacement, of human rights violations are going to continue.”
Biden wants de-escalation “today”:
Biden, who is increasingly at odds with his own party as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and dozens of Democratic lawmakers call for an immediate ceasefire, has largely defended Israel and has not called for an immediate end to the violence.
On Wednesday, Biden in his fourth call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a rapid de-escalation but again stopped short of demanding an immediate ceasefire.
“The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”