Biden prays for safety of Tlaib's family in Michigan speech

President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE on Tuesday offered words of admiration for Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water Ohio becomes battleground for rival Democratic factions MORE (D-Mich.) and promised to ensure the safety of her family in the West Bank.

Biden made the comments at the beginning of a speech about electric vehicles at a Ford plant in Dearborn, Mich., after Tlaib publicly criticized his administration’s handling of the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people,” Biden said, naming Tlaib. “It’s from my heart. I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you I am going to do everything to see that they are safe on the West Bank. You’re a fighter, and God thank you for being a fighter.”

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Earlier Tuesday, Biden spent several minutes speaking with Tlaib on the tarmac upon his arrival in Detroit during which she pressed him to do more to protect Palestinian lives. Biden was also greeted by Michigan Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Mercedes-Benz going all-electric by 2025 Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts MORE (D).

Biden has faced criticism from Tlaib and other progressives who have urged him to speak out more forcefully about violence against Palestinians by Israel.

Tlaib in 2018 became the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress. 

 

An aide to Tlaib said that the congresswoman's message to Biden mirrored her public comments regarding the ongoing conflict.   

"Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated. The U.S. cannot continue to give the right-wing Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians. Atrocities like bombing schools cannot be tolerated, much less conducted with U.S.-supplied weapons," the aide said. 

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"Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights."

Tlaib during an appearance on MSNBC on Monday night suggested the administration was acting hypocritically by not upholding human rights of Palestinians.

“I hope that my president, our president, speaks up and speaks truth about what exactly is happening because I know they know, and I know they are enabling it by sitting there and saying these kinds of passive language that is not going to hold a lawless, very much a corrupted country right now that has set an apartheid state,” Tlaib told host Joy Reid.

Biden on Monday spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and expressed support for a cease-fire in the region between Israel and Hamas. He also “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” according to a White House readout. 

Officials have also emphasized that Israel has a right to defend itself from rockets fired by Hamas from civilian areas in Gaza.

The White House says it is engaging frequently behind the scenes with Israeli and Palestinian officials and other regional players in an effort to de-escalate the situation, which has persisted for more than a week.

There have been civilian deaths on both sides.

“The president’s objective is clear, which is that he wants to see an end to the violence on the ground, an end to the suffering of the Israeli and Palestinian people,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiConflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden walks fine line with Fox News White House on Cleveland Indians' name change: 'We certainly support their change of name' MORE told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, defending the administration’s approach.

“Our focus and our strategy here is to work through quiet, intensive diplomacy, and he’s been doing this long enough to know the best way to end an international conflict is typically not to debate it in public,” Psaki said. 

Updated 4:43 p.m.