January 17, 2024

Sen. Bernie Sanders Pushes to Freeze Aid to Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plans to use a little-known provision in the Foreign Assistance Act to compel a Senate vote on Tuesday afternoon regarding a measure to halt military aid to Israel unless the State Department produces a report on potential human rights abuses in Gaza.

Sanders's resolution, if adopted, would mandate the State Department to submit a report on any human rights violations occurring during Israel's blockade and invasion of Gaza following the Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians.

Should the State Department fail to provide the report within 30 days, U.S. assistance to Israel would be frozen.

Despite its limited chance of becoming law, as it requires approval from both chambers and the President's signature, Sanders introduced the resolution last Thursday.

He plans to initiate a floor debate on what he perceives as the Netanyahu government's "indiscriminate and disproportionate military operations" in Gaza.

Sanders has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's regime for obstructing humanitarian aid to Gaza, labeling the blockade a "serious violation of international law."

Utilizing a simple majority vote, Sanders can force his resolution to be discharged from the Foreign Relations Committee. The resolution, being privileged, cannot undergo amendments or filibusters.

Sanders framed the resolution as a straightforward inquiry during a Senate floor speech last week.

He stated, "Do you support asking the State Department whether human rights violations may have occurred using U.S. equipment or assistance in this war? This resolution is not prescriptive — it does not alter aid to Israel in any way. It simply requests that the State Department report on how our aid is being used."

Sanders has emerged as a vocal critic of Israel's military operations in Gaza, denouncing the extensive use of U.S.-supplied bombs and artillery shells and calling for withholding over $10 billion in military funding for Israel.

He has expressed concern about the civilian casualties, with more than 24,000 Palestinians reported dead by Palestinian officials.

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