Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from Michigan, confronted President Biden on Tuesday about his support for Israel in its campaign to bomb Hamas in Gaza, urging him to stop allowing a government she said , was committing crimes against Palestinians, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange.
During a conversation on a tarmac in Detroit, where Mr. Biden had arrived to visit a Ford plant near her Congressional district, Ms. Tlaib echoed a scathing speech she gave in the House last week, telling the president he must do more to protect Palestinian lives and human rights, said Aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe his remarks.
His comments came as Israel stepped up its bombing campaign last week. Among Democrats in Congress, attitudes toward Israel have grown more skeptical as the party base expresses concern over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and several senior progressive lawmakers, including Ms. Tlaib, have come out increasingly to criticize Mr. Biden for his position.
There was no immediate comment on the White House exchange.
Mr. Biden expressed his support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, but he did not ask for one, and he continued to assert that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Ms Tlaib, who could be seen pleading her case to Mr Biden as she greeted him on the steps of Air Force One, told the president that the status quo only allowed more killings and that her current policy of unconditional support for the Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not functioning, the aide said.
Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, whose district is home to the Ford F-150 factory Mr. Biden was visiting and who also greeted him when he arrived, later said the tarmac exchange was part of ‘an “important dialogue”.
“It was a very compassionate and honest discussion,” she said in a brief interview. “But the president doesn’t deal with these kinds of issues in public, and he doesn’t negotiate in public.”
Mr Biden shook hands with Ms Tlaib after the conversation and then congratulated the congresswoman during her public remarks at the Dearborn plant.
“I admire your intellect, I admire your passion and I admire your concern for so many other people,” Mr. Biden said, before speaking about Ms. Tlaib’s grandmother, Muftia Tlaib, who lives in West Bank. “With all my heart, I pray that your grandmother and your family are doing well. I promise you, I’ll do anything to see that they are.