Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre on June 8, 2024 in Ramat Gan, Israel.

(Photo: Jack Guez -Pool/Getty Images)

After Netanyahu Video, Sanders Says US Should Halt 'All Offensive Military Aid'

"It is absurd that Netanyahu has been invited to address Congress," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "We should not be honoring people who use the starvation of children as a weapon of war."

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that the Biden administration should immediately halt all shipments of offensive weaponry to Israel after the country's far-right prime minister claimed in a video that American arms aren't flowing quickly enough.

"No doubt, we will hear similar complaints when he addresses Congress on July 24," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a video statement of his own. "Virtually everyone recognizes Israel's right to defend itself from terrorism and respond to the horrific October 7th Hamas attack that killed 1,200 innocent Israelis and took hundreds of hostages. But the Israeli government did not and does not have the right to go to war against the entire Palestinian people. Yet that is exactly what has happened."

Sanders' remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a brief English-language video accusing the Biden administration of "withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel."

The prime minister, who is currently facing possible arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court, added that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken "assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks."

"I certainly hope that's the case. It should be the case," Netanyahu added. "During World War II, Churchill told the United States, 'Give us the tools, we'll do the job.' And I say, give us the tools and we'll finish the job a lot faster."

Netanyahu did not specify which weapons he was referring to, but the Biden administration recently paused a shipment including 2,000-pound bombs that Israel has repeatedly dropped on areas of Gaza packed with civilians. The Biden administration has continued approving other weaponry—including tank ammunition and mortar rounds—even as it acknowledges that Israel has used U.S. arms to commit war crimes in Gaza.

"Let's be clear: the right-wing, extremist Netanyahu government has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians and injured nearly 85,000, sixty percent of whom are women, children, or elderly," Sanders said Tuesday. "It is absurd that Netanyahu has been invited to address Congress. We should not be honoring people who use the starvation of children as a weapon of war."

"Instead," Sanders added, "the United States should be withholding all offensive military aid to Israel and using our leverage to demand an end to this war, the unfettered flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza, a stop to the killing of Palestinians in the West Bank, and initial steps towards a two-state solution."

Netanyahu's video reportedly led the Biden White House to cancel a scheduled Thursday meeting with Israel on Iran. According toAxios, U.S. President Joe Biden's top advisers "were enraged by the video—a messageU.S. envoy Amos Hochstein delivered personally to Netanyahu in a meeting hours after it was published."

But Netanyahu has repeatedly taken swipes at the Biden administration and crossed its supposed "red lines" with no material consequences. The administration has approved more than 100 weapons sales to Israel since October 7, and the U.S. has provided crucial diplomatic support for the Israeli government on the world stage, repeatedly thwarting efforts to secure an end to the assault on Gaza.

"The way Netanyahu relishes humiliating American officials is comical," The Intercept's Murtaza Hussain wrote late Tuesday. "The U.S. has been replenishing Israel's weapon stocks throughout the war, without which it would be economically unsustainable. Not to mention giving them diplomatic and political cover."

Sanders and a growing number of Democratic lawmakers are planning to boycott Netanyahu's scheduled address to a joint meeting of Congress next month, citing his government's creation of one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in modern history and continued indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip.

"I will not attend," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) toldNBC News on Sunday. "I said that if he wants to come to speak to members of Congress about how to end the war and release hostages, I would be fine doing that, but I’m not going to sit in a one-way lecture."

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