Sanders calls on US Congress to reject Biden’s $10.1B in unconditional aid to Israel

Progressive senator, who previously rejected ceasefire and said Hamas has to go, says Israel violating international law in Gaza, urges colleages to vote down further arms shipments

US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP/Jose Luis Magana, File)
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP/Jose Luis Magana, File)

US Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday urged Congress to reject the $10.1 billion in unconditional aid to Israel proposed by US President Joe Biden.

In the statement, Sanders, who declared in November that Hamas “has to go,” accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of waging a war against the terror group in Gaza that is “grossly disproportionate, immoral and in violation of international law.”

Acknowledging that it was triggered by “Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attack,” the progressive senator bemoaned the devastating effect of the ensuing war on the Gaza Strip, including the displacement of over 80 percent of its population and the destruction of some 70% of its homes.

Sanders called on his colleagues to vote against continued American arms shipments to Israel, since the “war against the Palestinian people has been significantly waged with US bombs, artillery shells and other forms of weaponry,” read the senator’s statement. “The taxpayers of the United States must no longer be complicit in destroying the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza.”

In early December, Sanders and a robust group of Democratic senators demanded that the Biden administration’s aid to Israel be conditioned on assurances from the Netanyahu government that concrete steps be taken to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza.

Throughout December, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken twice fast-tracked arms shipments to Israel, bypassing congressional review of the military aid in a legal though unusual move. The maneuver was met with resistance from members of Biden’s own party, including moderates such as Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

Despite the combative tone toward Israel’s government in his Tuesday statement, Sanders has consistently stopped short of calling for a full ceasefire, gaining the ire of some of his progressive colleagues.

“I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire… with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the State of Israel,” he told CNN two months ago. “I think what the Arab countries in the region understand is that Hamas has got to go,” he adds.

Briahna Joy Gray, press secretary of Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign and a prolific anti-Zionist presence on social media, has called her former boss the “[b]iggest political disappointment of our generation” for his refusal to endorse a ceasefire. Gray herself has earned some notoriety for her apparent ignorance about the existence of non-European Jews.

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