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Jacky Rosen charts own path on Israel

Jacky Rosen charts her own path on Israel-Gaza

The Democratic Party’s divisions over U.S. policy toward Israel have put the spotlight on a vulnerable incumbent who usually doesn’t seek it out: Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Rosen, the only Jewish woman in the Senate and a former synagogue president, is known in the Capitol for her low-key demeanor, a focus on combating antisemitism and a tendency to break from her party on foreign policy.

But Rosen is treading lightly — so far — on the latest Israel-centric issue as she navigates her party’s internal tensions over Israel’s military operations against Hamas in Gaza.

Rosen released a statement with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slamming the International Criminal Court over possible arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. But she isn’t endorsing the House-passed bill to impose sanctions on the ICC, instead deferring to ongoing bipartisan Senate talks.

“We have to look at a bipartisan path,” Rosen told us this week. “There will be a group of senators trying to figure out if and what might be the path forward… People know me as being a good bipartisan broker in all of this.”

The White House has said it opposes ICC sanctions as well as the House GOP-drafted bill. That proposal got 42 Democratic votes in the House this week.

In our brief interview, Rosen declined to give her assessment of President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel or comment on the White House’s opposition to ICC sanctions. But she said the Senate should work its will regardless of what Biden prefers.

“I’m going to leave the president to speak for himself,” Rosen said. “Myself, working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we have to decide from our perspective here in the Senate what we think is our statement.”

How it’ll play in November: Democrats see Rosen as a team player but also someone who isn’t shy about bucking the party, especially when it comes to Israel.

Rosen is likely to face off against Republican Sam Brown in November. The GOP primary is next Tuesday. Republicans feel good about their chances in Nevada and view Rosen as a top target.

Brown has attacked Rosen on a whole host of issues, but Israel isn’t one that’s broken through — in part because of her hawkish positions on foreign policy and on Israel specifically. Rosen has long been considered a swing vote in the Senate on these issues.

In January 2022, Rosen voted for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) bill imposing sanctions on a Russian natural gas pipeline, joining just a handful of Democrats in doing so. The White House intensely lobbied Democrats against it.

Later that year, Rosen voted to prohibit the Biden administration from removing the foreign terrorist designation for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. At the time, administration officials were considering lifting that designation as part of its bid to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Biden decided against doing so.

The NRSC sent us this statement when we asked about Rosen’s posture toward Israel, which is from Regional Press Secretary Maggie Abboud:

Rosen has called out her fellow Democrats in the past, including when it comes to Israel. After the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, Rosen released a statement condemning “extremists in my own party” for calling to end U.S. assistance for Israel. And she has spoken out against progressives who have called for placing conditions on aid to Israel.

More recently, Rosen criticized Biden for threatening to cut off U.S. offensive aid to Israel if Netanyahu moved forward with an invasion of Rafah.

— Andrew Desiderio

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