Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

An IDF artillery unit near the Israel-Gaza border in Southern Israel on May 13, 2021.

An IDF artillery unit near the Israel-Gaza border in Southern Israel on May 13, 2021. (Photo: Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sanders Says US Must 'Take a Hard Look' at Nearly $4 Billion in Annual Military Aid to Israel

"It is illegal for U.S. aid to support human rights violations," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Sunday that lawmakers must "take a hard look" at the nearly $4 billion in military aid the U.S. sends to Israel on an annual basis as the Netanyahu regime continues its devastating assault on Gaza and attempts to forcefully expel Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

"The devastation in Gaza is unconscionable. We must urge an immediate ceasefire," Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted Sunday. "The killing of Palestinians and Israelis must end. We must also take a hard look at nearly $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel. It is illegal for U.S. aid to support human rights violations."

"Now is the time to send a clear message to the Israeli government: Not one dollar more of U.S. military aid can be used to demolish Palestinian homes, annex Palestinian lands, and torture or kill Palestinian children."
—Rep. Betty McCollum

The senator's call came after Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed 42 Palestinians early Sunday, bringing the death toll since last week closer to 200.

Thanks to a 10-year deal inked during the Obama presidency in 2016, Israel receives roughly $3.8 billion a year in military assistance from the United States. In a budget blueprint released last month, President Joe Biden indicated that he intends to adhere to the terms of the 2016 deal, which sends Israel $3.3 billion in military aid and $500 million for missile defense systems each year.

In the wake of Israeli security forces' attack on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound last week, several members of Congress vocally reiterated their support for adding strict human rights conditions to the billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to pressure the Israeli government to end its brutal repression of Palestinians.

Under legal provisions known as the Leahy laws, the U.S. government is barred from providing military assistance "to any unit" of a country's security forces that is committing "a gross violation of human rights"—mandates that have been applied only selectively in practice.

"American taxpayer money is being used to commit human rights violations," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, tweeted last Monday. "Congress must condition the aid we send to Israel, and end it altogether if those conditions are not followed."

In a joint statement that same day, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), André Carson (D-Ind.), and Tlaib lamented that "we continue to provide the Israeli government with over $3 billion in military aid every year—with no conditions or accountability for wanton human rights abuses and continuing illegal seizures of Palestinian land."

Last month, before Israel's latest bombardment of Gaza began, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) introduced legislation that would prohibit Israel from using U.S. military aid in the occupied territories for "military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention"; seizing or destroying Palestinian property and homes; or supporting the annexation of Palestinian territory.

The bill currently has just 19 co-sponsors in the House, including Omar, Carson, and Tlaib as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

"Now is the time to send a clear message to the Israeli government: Not one dollar more of U.S. military aid can be used to demolish Palestinian homes, annex Palestinian lands, and torture or kill Palestinian children," McCollum told The Intercept last week. "Members need to decide if they want to talk peace and perpetuate conflict or if they want to really work toward reducing violence and conflict while actually taking a stand to advance human rights."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA's Environmental Justice Office 'Won't Make Up for' Manchin Deal, Campaigner Says

"We've seen a lot of structural changes on environmental justice in the Biden, Obama and Clinton administrations, but we need to see the results," said Wes Gobar of the Movement for Black Lives.

Julia Conley ·


Historic Tropical Storm Fiona Sweeps Homes Into Ocean in Eastern Canada

"Climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," said one Canadian civil engineering professor. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

Julia Conley ·


Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo