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President Biden and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib engaged in a tense, roughly eight-minute conversation on the airport tarmac Detroit after Biden’s arrival there Monday.
Tlaib refused to say what she and the president discussed, but at one point Biden patted the congresswoman’s shoulder. Later, during a speech in Dearborn, he lavishly complimented her.
President Joe Biden speaks with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich, right, as he arrives at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“I want to say to you that I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people. And it’s from my heart,” Biden said later of Tlaib during his speech at the Dearborn Ford factory. “I pray that your Grandma and family are well, I promise to do everything you see that they are in the West Bank.”
“You’re a fighter,” he added, though he mistakenly referred to her as Rasheed. “And God, thank you for being a fighter.”
Tlaib has been fiercely critical of Biden and the State Department’s handling of the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel.
“If you support a cease-fire, then get out of the way of the U.N. Security Council and join other countries in demanding it,” she said in a tweet directed at the president and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
“Apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu will not listen to anyone asking nicely,” she continued. “He commits war crimes and openly violates international law.”
Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, has called on the U.S. to recall funding for Israel, alleging the weapons provided are used to “kill children and families.”
“Enough, President Biden,” Tlaib said in a Monday interview with MSNBC. “You will not do this on our watch. You have to speak out against this violence in a very aggressive way that holds Netanyahu and his leadership accountable.”
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Israel and the Palestinians have engaged in conflict since last week.
The attacks have resulted in at least 213 Palestinians killed, including 61 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israel has reported 12 people killed, including a 5-year old boy.
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