Democrat Khanna: Biden is ‘running out of time’ with young voters over Gaza war

<span>Ro Khanna at a roundtable on supreme court ethics hosted in Washington DC, on 11 June 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Allison Bailey/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Ro Khanna at a roundtable on supreme court ethics hosted in Washington DC, on 11 June 2024.Photograph: Allison Bailey/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Progressive California Democrat Ro Khanna warned Sunday that Joe Biden is running out of time to win over young voters opposed to his administration’s handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict and that he will not attend Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress next month.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Representative Khanna said the erosion of support that the US president is seeing among young voters is a “challenge for our party” and the Democrats could be “running out of time” to restore support with “more people dying” in the conflict.

“We have to remember the humanitarian stakes,” he said. “Young people want the war to end. But what young people want is a vision, and the president started that with a ceasefire. I hope he can go further. He should call for two states. He should say in his second term, he’s going to convene a peace conference in the Middle East, recognize a Palestinian state without Hamas, work with Egypt, Saudi Arabia on it.”

Khanna said he was “not going to sit in a one-way lecture” from the Israeli prime minister during his address to a joint session of Congress, scheduled for 24 July, but “if he wants to come to speak to members of Congress about how to end the war and release hostages, I would be fine doing that.”

Khanna echoed congressional colleague Jim Clyburn, who last week said he would also not attend and cited the feud between Netanyahu and Barack Obama over Palestinian statehood and the US pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.

“How he treated President Obama, he should not expect reciprocity,” Khanna said, adding that Netanyahu should be treated with “decorum” by the legislative body. “We’re not going to make a big deal about it,” he added.

Khanna called on Biden to put more pressure on Netanyahu regarding a UN-endorsed ceasefire proposal, which is supported by the US and the Arab league.

“Benny Ganz is saying prioritize the hostage deal and the peace,” Khanna said, referring to the Israel’s national unity chair Benny Gantz who resigned from Netanyahu’s coalition government. “Netanyahu is saying they want to destroy … all of Hamas, and I don’t think that’s achievable”.

Khanna’s comments come as political divisions between progressive and centrist Democrats over Israel and Gaza are being exposed by a key congressional race in the New York suburbs that pits Bernie Sanders-supported progressive Democrat Jamaal Bowman against George Latimer, a centrist who was endorsed by Hillary Clinton last week.

The contest between the two Democrat candidates in New York’s 16th district may turn on differing positions on the Israeli action on Gaza, which Sanders has called “ethnic cleansing” and Bowman a “genocide”. Clinton has said US pro-Palestinian protesters “don’t know very much” about the Middle East and that a full ceasefire would “perpetuate the cycle of violence”.