Sen. Bernie Sanders was the lone member of the Senate Democratic caucus to oppose advancing a $110.5 billion supplemental foreign aid measure on Wednesday, expressing opposition to the bill’s unconditional military assistance for the Israeli government.
“I voted NO on the foreign aid supplemental bill today for one reason,” Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. “I do not believe that we should give the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government an additional $10.1 billion with no strings attached to continue their inhumane war against the Palestinian people.”
“Israel has the absolute right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists who attacked them on October 7,” Sanders added. “They do not have the legal or moral right to kill thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children.”
The aid package, which also includes billions in military assistance for Ukraine, failed to clear a procedural hurdle Wednesday, with every Republican voting no over the absence of immigration policy changes that progressives have condemned as draconian. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) flipped his initial yes vote to no in a maneuver that will allow him to bring the bill forward again at a later date.
According to a summary released by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the supplemental package contains over $10 billion in military aid for Israel, which already receives roughly $4 billion in assistance from the U.S. per year and has gotten tens of thousands of bombs, artillery shells, and other weaponry since the Hamas-led October 7 attack.
The measure is largely in line with a request issued in October by the Biden White House, which has sought to expedite U.S. arms shipments to Israel even as the nation’s military is using American-made weaponry to commit heinous war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
One human rights monitor estimated earlier this week that at least 90% of the people killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7 have been civilians.
Sanders, who has faced progressive criticism and outrage for rejecting calls for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, said in a Senate floor speech on Monday that Israel “must dramatically change its approach to minimize civilian harm and lay out a wider political process that can secure lasting peace.”
The senator conceded during his remarks that there is no evidence Israel has altered its approach in response to light pressure from top U.S. officials, pointing to recent bombings of United Nations schools and other civilian infrastructure.
“Israel’s indiscriminate approach is, in my view, offensive to most Americans, it is in violation of U.S. and international law, and it undermines the prospects for lasting peace and security,” said Sanders.
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