- The resolution is expected to fail given that Republicans still widely support Israel without condition
- Break will put the break among Democrats over the Middle Eastern conflict on full display
Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to force a full Senate vote on a resolution that would force the U.S. to investigate alleged Israel war crimes and withhold aid if they are found to have merit.
Just after Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, U.S. lawmakers were in lockstep with support for Jewish state’s aggressive response in Gaza. But as the months wear on and the Palestinian civilian death toll lurches upward, liberal Democrats have begun to sour on President Benjamin Netanyahu’s military campaign, and the push for more U.S. aid to fund the bloody offensive.
The resolution is expected to fail during a Tuesday evening vote given that Republicans still widely support Israel without condition. But it will put the break among Democrats over the Middle Eastern conflict on full display.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to force a full Senate vote on a resolution that would force the U.S. to investigate alleged Israel war crimes and withhold aid if they are found to have merit
The resolution would freeze all U.S. security aid to Israel unless the State Department produces a report within 30 days examining whether the nation had committed human rights violations in its wartime conduct.
In a statement earlier this month Sanders, who himself is Jewish, deemed the Gaza offensive an ‘illegal and immoral war against the Palestinian people.’
Back in October President Biden requested $14 billion in security aid for Israel that has now stalled in Congress. Biden and the top congressional leadership will meet at the White House on Wednesday to discuss a package that would include aid for Israel and Ukraine and border security measures.
Much of the holdup has been around the much larger $61 billion supplemental request for Ukraine which hardline conservatives oppose.
The mounting death toll in Gaza – 24,000 according to the Gaza Health Ministry – coupled with Israel’s road blocks to aid for trapped civilians have sparked wide near-constant protests across the U.S. On Tuesday 130 people were arrested on Capitol Hill in a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
It’s also prompted genocide charges at the International Court of Justice and a subtle urging from the Biden administration to wind down the bombing campaign. Earlier this month Israel said it would soon shift to more targeted military operations in Gaza.
Congress has not invoked the human rights authority that Sanders’ resolution uses since 1976.
Pro-Israel lobbyists have campaigned aggressively against the measure and the Biden administration has resisted conditions on aid and argued Sanders resolution is poorly timed and not necessary.
‘It’s unworkable, quite frankly,’ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Sunday.
Smoke rises following Israeli air strikes in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, 16 January 2024
A donkey cart drives past a collapsed building in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, on January 16, 2024
A view of the destroyed house of the Palestinian al-Huli family as a result of the Israeli attack as citizens inspect the damage in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on January 16, 2024
‘The Israelis have indicated they are preparing to transition their operations to a much lower intensity. And we believe that transition will be helpful both in terms of reducing civilian casualties, as well as increasing humanitarian assistance.’
Sanders said on CNN he ‘strongly disagree[s]’ with Kirby, noting two-thirds of those killed in Gaza have been women and children, 70 percent of housing units in the region have been razed, and most of the 2.3 million people who live there have been displaced.
He called the bombing in Gaza ‘worse than what took place in Dresden over a two-year period,’ referencing the American and British bombing campaign of Dresden, Germany during World War II.
‘You do not have the right to go to war against an entire people,’ Sanders said.