Rep. Rashida Tlaib called Israel an apartheid state guilty of war crimes in an impassioned speech on the House floor in opposition to a measure to replenish Israel‘s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
House Democrats introduced the measure as a standalone bill Wednesday after progressives pulled the funding from a stopgap bill to fund the government.
“I will not support any effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses, and violence,” said Ms. Tlaib, Michigan Democrat.
“We cannot only be talking about Israel‘s need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes,” she said.
The measure introduced Wednesday by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat and House Appropriations Committee chairwoman, provides $1 billion to replenish the missile defense system that was taxed during 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas in May.
The Islamist terror group fired an estimated 4,360 rockets at Israel during the conflict, and the Iron Dome shot down 90% of those that came within range of the system, according to Israeli officials.
Far-left Democrats pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remove the military aid from a stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government open past Sept. 30.
Though moderate Democrats, who note that the missile system is purely a defensive weapon that kills nobody, opposed stripping the funding from the bill, Mrs. Pelosi was forced to pull the measure given her party’s narrow grip in the House.
In doing so, House Democrats successfully forced through the short-term funding measure to prevent a government shutdown and avoid a debt default on a 220-211 party-line vote.
Ms. DeLauro initially pledged to include the Iron Dome funding in the appropriations package at the end of the year. But as pressure to restore the funding grew, House Democratic leadership promised a more timely vote on the measure.
In debating the measure on the House floor Thursday, Ms. Tlaib said the funding was illegitimate, blaming Israel for the skirmish in May.
“I firmly believe our country must oppose selling weapons to anyone, anywhere without human rights, law compliance. The Israeli Government is an apartheid regime, not my words, the words of Human Rights Watch, and Israel‘s own Human Rights Watch organization B’Tselem,” she said.
The remarks drew a sharp response from both parties.
“Mr. Speaker, the truth is finally come out on the floor of the House in the United States of America,” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Republican, said in response to Ms. Tlaib’s remarks.
“We heard right now from my colleague across the aisle with a shocking statement,” he said. “She opposes this because they have a vocal minority in the majority party that is anti-Israel that is antisemitic. And as Americans, we can never stand for that.”
“I am shocked, Mr. Speaker, with what I just heard,” he concluded. “I asked the majority to condemn the comments that were just made by their member.
Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, followed Mr. Fleischmann in condemning the remarks.
“Mr. Speaker, I cannot. I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state,” he said. “I reject it.”
“We can have an opportunity to debate lots of issues on the House floor,” Mr. Deutch said. “But to falsely characterize the state of Israel is consistent with those, let’s be clear, it’s consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world.”
As expected, the House overwhelmingly passed the measure in a 420-9 vote shortly after Ms. Tlaib’s remarks.