May 20, 2021
Joining his progressive allies in the House, Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced a resolution of disapproval against the Biden administration's proposed sale of advanced weaponry to the Israeli government, which continues to unleash deadly airstrikes on the occupied Gaza Strip amid global calls for a cease-fire.
"At a moment when U.S.-made bombs are devastating Gaza, and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a congressional debate," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. "I believe that the United States must help lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. We need to take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping do that, or whether it is simply fueling conflict."
"The message to the Biden administration is powerful and clear: unconditional support to Israel is wrong."
--Jamil Dakwar, ACLU Human Rights Program
The Senate measure--which, under the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976, must receive a vote--aims to block the pending U.S. sale of $735 million worth of Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs that humanitarian groups warn would be used against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Sanders' resolution came shortly after a group of House progressives led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced a measure on Wednesday to block the proposed arms sale, which the Biden administration unveiled to Congress on May 5.
"The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions, and civilian sites for bombing," Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday. "We have a responsibility to protect human rights."
To pass, resolutions of disapproval must receive simple-majority support in both chambers. But even if the measures clear both the House and Senate--an unlikely prospect, given the unwavering support Israel enjoys from much of Congress--President Joe Biden would still be able to use his veto power to push the arms sale through.
Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Program, said Thursday that despite the long odds of passage, the congressional resolutions are a "big deal" that show "growing support among progressives in Congress to restrict or condition arms sales to Israel."
"The message to the Biden administration is powerful and clear: unconditional support to Israel is wrong," Dakwar added.
The push to stop the Biden administration's weapons sale comes as the government of right-wing Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resists international pressure to stop the bombing campaign, which has killed more than 220 people in Gaza since it began last Monday.
After Biden told Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expects "a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire," the Israeli prime minister responded that he is "determined to continue this operation until its aim is met."
Early Thursday, according to the Associated Press, Israel fired off "another wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip... killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several."
"Explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the pre-dawn sky, with bombing raids also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis. As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble from at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis," AP reported. "Heavy airstrikes also pummeled a street in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, destroying ramshackle homes with corrugated metal roofs nearby."
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