Rashida Tlaib's claims of genocide in Gaza draw bipartisan criticism

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (R-MI) speaks at a press conference calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court on July 18, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Rashida Tlaib's remarks have been called "hurtful" by fellow Democrats

House Republicans have introduced two separate measures to censure a Democrat amid cross-party criticism of her comments on the Israel-Gaza war.

Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, had posted a video accusing President Joe Biden of supporting genocide in Gaza.

The White House and several Democrats criticised that and other remarks.

Ms Tlaib said her colleagues were "more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives".

In a video posted to social media on Friday, Ms Tlaib directly addressed President Biden and called for a ceasefire.

It features clips of Mr Biden stating his support for Israel, followed by clips of the dead and injured in Gaza and pro-Palestinian protests across the US.

"Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people," titles at the end of the video read. "The American people won't forget."

The video also features people chanting the slogan "from the river to the sea", which calls for Palestinian control of all land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including Israel.

Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League say the slogan is a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

That interpretation is disputed by some pro-Palestinian activists who say that most people chanting it are calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, not the destruction of Israel itself.

Representing a Michigan district that includes parts of Detroit and Dearborn, Ms Tlaib is one of just three Muslim lawmakers in Congress. She has long angered party leaders and pro-Israel groups with her unflinching criticism of Israel.

More on Israel-Gaza war

Defending her latest remarks, she said the slogan is "an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate".

But the comment has drawn criticism from all corners, including from Democratic allies in her own state.

In a tweet to Ms Tlaib, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called the use of the phrase "hurtful".

"I have supported and defended you countless times, even when you have said the indefensible, because I believed you to be a good person. Please retract this cruel and hateful remark," Ms Nessel wrote.

Biden and Netanyahu
Shoulder to shoulder - Biden and Netanyahu

Michigan Senate President Pro Tem Jeremy Moss, another Democrat, said Ms Tlaib's comments were insensitive to Jewish people.

On Monday, Georgia Republican Rich McCormick introduced a resolution to censure Ms Tlaib for "calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and dangerously promoting false narratives".

Meanwhile, other progressive Democrats in Congress, like Pramila Jayapal from Washington, declined to side with Ms Tlaib's comments.

Jon Finer, the White House deputy national security advisor, said on Sunday that the Biden administration disagrees "with some of that messaging and with some of the terms used to describe this conflict".

More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas attacks on 7 October. Since then, more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

The Biden administration has so far stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, but has become increasingly cautious in its language on the conflict as it seeks to balance competing interests.

Mr Biden has repeatedly said that he supports Israel's right to defend itself, while pushing for pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid, food and water into Gaza.