National Security

Sanders planning resolution to block arms sale to Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will introduce a resolution Thursday in an effort to block the planned sale of $735 million in weapons to Israel amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.

“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 said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

“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,” he added.

The Washington Post first reported Sanders’s resolution.

The resolution only requires a simple majority to pass the Senate, the Post noted, adding that it would need a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House if it is vetoed by President Biden.

An unidentified source told the newspaper that Sanders’s measure “starts the ball rolling with the Senate voting in one way or another on this sale to Israel.”

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Mark Pocan (Wis.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) introduced a resolution in the House on Wednesday aimed at blocking the sale of joint direct attack munitions and small diameter bombs to Israel. However, the resolution is seen as largely symbolic as Democratic leaders in the chamber who support the sale are not expected to give the measure a vote.

“For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights. In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions,” Ocasio-Cortez in a statement announcing the resolution.

The Post noted that lawmakers have never successfully blocked a proposed arms sale through a joint resolution of disapproval. Former President Trump vetoed three resolutions passed by lawmakers in 2019 seeking to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Biden on Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expected a “significant de-escalation” in the violence between Israel and Hamas to put the conflict, which is in its second week, “on the path to a ceasefire.”

Following the call, Netanyahu said that he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City resumed on Thursday after a brief pause.

The Biden administration notified Congress on May 5 that it approved the sale to Israel. Most arms sales require a 30-day congressional review period, but some U.S. allies, including Israel, are granted a 15-day review period. 

Updated at 8:17 a.m.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arms sales Benjamin Netanyahu Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hamas Israel Israel-Gaza conflict Joe Biden Mark Pocan Rashida Tlaib

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