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Rep. Golden critical of Biden decision to withhold military assistance to Israel

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks to a reporter at his home, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Lewiston, Maine. Golden is being challenged by Republican Bruce Poliquin in the November election.
Robert F. Bukaty
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks to a reporter at his home, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Lewiston, Maine.

Maine Congressman Jared Golden on Monday criticized President Biden's threat to withhold additional military assistance if Israel launches a large-scale offensive in Rafah.

Last week, Biden warned that his administration might halt shipments of bombs and other offensive weapons that could be used by Israel during an assault on the city of Rafah in Gaza over concerns about large-scale civilian casualties. The president made the statements following news that the administration had already stopped shipments of some larger bombs.

Speaking during a broad-ranging conversation on Monday's Maine Calling program, Golden said he did not support that decision. He added that Hamas must first release all of the remaining hostages that were taken during last October's terrorist attacks on Israel.

"I think the appropriate basis for talking about a ceasefire begins with the return of all of the hostages," the Democrat said. "I don't think the United States would have any less demands if we were in this situation. But we are in a way because, like I said, there are United States citizens who are victims in this situation."

Gaza health officials estimate that more than 35,000 people have been killed in the Israeli offensive launched after Hamas killed more than 1,200 last October and took others hostage. Last week, the State Department told Congress that Israel had likely violated international standards during the war, although the report did not call for halting military assistance to Israel.

Golden, who deployed several times to combat zones as a Marine, disagreed with callers as well as some of his Democratic colleagues who allege that Israel is committing war crimes or even genocide in Gaza.

"I think war is terrible," Golden said. "I think that it almost always results in very sad results for civilians in particular, whether you are talking about Gaza or Ukraine or Afghanistan or Iraq or the many places I've seen in my lifetime. But I do not believe it is factually accurate to say that war crimes are being committed in Palestine at this time."

1st District Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, has been the most critical member of Maine's congressional delegation when it comes to Israel. Pingree was among several dozen Democrats in April in calling on the Biden administration to potentially suspend additional shipments of offensive weapons after an Israeli airstrike killed several humanitarian workers.

Sen. Angus King, an independent, has also suggested the Biden administration should pause weapons shipments to Israel following the deaths of the seven World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers.

But Republican Sen. Susan Collins joined 48 other GOP senators last week in signing onto a resolution condemning any decision by the Biden to halt shipments of military assistance to Israel.