Ocasio-Cortez defends accusing Israel of genocide in floor speech

Mar 24, 2024, 12:30 PM

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday defended accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinia...

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday defended accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people and advocating for cuts to US military aid until humanitarian relief flows freely in Gaza. (CNN)


(CNN) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday defended accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people and advocating for cuts to US military aid until humanitarian relief flows freely in Gaza. Her decision to use the term genocide, as she did during a floor speech on Friday in the House chamber, was “taken with extraordinary gravity,” she said.

While she has openly condemned the violence in Gaza amid Israel’s war against Hamas, Ocasio-Cortez has typically been cautious about labeling Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as genocide — a distinction in line with her tendency to use more conciliatory rhetoric on Israel than some of her ideological allies. But the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza has “crossed the threshold of intent,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“As we speak, in this moment, 1.1 million innocents in Gaza are at famine’s door,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her speech Friday. “A famine that is being intentionally precipitated through the blocking of food and global humanitarian assistance by leaders in the Israeli government.”

“If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like,” the New York Democrat added, “open your eyes.”

More than 32,000 people in the coastal enclave have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

All 2.2 million people in Gaza do not have enough food to eat, with half of the population on the brink of starvation and famine projected to arrive in the north “anytime between mid-March and May 2024,” according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.

“What we are seeing here, I think, with a forced famine is beyond our ability to deny or explain away,” Ocasio-Cortez told Tapper. “There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children.”

Her comments come as the Biden administration is hardening its stance ahead of key meetings this week between US and Israeli officials.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday that the US would not rule out consequences for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government if he moves forward with a military offensive in Rafah, where more than a million people are crammed into a sprawling tent city, describing such a decision as a “mistake.”

“We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake. Let me tell you something, I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Harris’ remarks come as national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant are set to meet at the White House on Monday. They are expected to focus on continued efforts to get the remaining hostages held by Hamas released and the urgent need for more humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza.

Based on recent negotiations, Israel agreed to a US “bridging proposal” on the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released for every hostage held by Hamas, and the delegations are now waiting for a response from Hamas, CNN analyst Barak Ravid said Saturday on X, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official.

A diplomatic source briefed on the matter confirmed to CNN the accuracy of the information but said outstanding issues remain, including the entry of aid and “Israeli military repositioning” in Gaza.

The meeting between Sullivan and Gallant, a White House official told CNN, is different from the previously reported visit between Israeli officials and US officials also set for this week, at which the two countries are likely to discuss alternatives to a ground offensive of Rafah.

Ocasio-Cortez told Tapper on Sunday that she disagrees with the Israeli government restricting the flow of food and aid until Hamas frees the hostages and lays down arms.

“We are talking about famine,” she said. “The actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a 3-year-old can eat. The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves. We and the Israeli government have the right to go after Hamas. But we are talking about a population of millions of innocent Palestinians. We’re talking about collective punishment, which is in unjustifiable,” she said.

Contributing: Becky Anderson

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to the pre...

Jacques Billeaud, Jonathan J. Cooper and Josh Kelety

Arizona indicts 18 in election interference case, including Giuliani and Meadows

An Arizona grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Rudy Giuliani and 16 others in an election interference case related to the 2020 presidential vote.

7 minutes ago

A Planned Parenthood sign is seen at a facility in Austin, Texas, Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. A federal ...

Jacques Billeaud and Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press

Arizona House advances a repeal of the state’s near-total abortion ban to the Senate

A proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total ban on abortions has won approval from the state House.

17 hours ago

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks after signing legislation givi...

Aamer Madhani and Seung Min Kim

Biden signs a $95 billion war aid measure with assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

President Joe Biden has signed into law a $95 billion war aid measure that includes assistance for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other allies.

21 hours ago

Former New York Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House and is facing federal charges, ...

Rashard Rose, CNN

George Santos ends congressional bid for New York’s 1st District

Former New York Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House and is facing federal charges, said he is withdrawing his bid for Congress in New York’s 1st District.

2 days ago

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Sunday said House Speaker Mike Johnson “betrayed” Rep...

Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Marjorie Taylor Greene calls on Johnson to resign after foreign aid bills pass

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Sunday said House Speaker Mike Johnson “betrayed” Republican voters after the House approved new aid to Ukraine, threatening to call a vote for his ouster if he doesn’t resign.

4 days ago

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the US Capitol earlier this year. (Craig Hudson/REUT...

Ted Barrett, Morgan Rimmer and Clare Foran, CNN

Senate passes surveillance bill despite contentious debate over privacy concerns

The Senate voted late Friday to reauthorize a key surveillance authority, avoiding a lapse in the controversial program.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Ocasio-Cortez defends accusing Israel of genocide in floor speech