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Sanders to Push Amendment Removing Military Funding for Israel in Aid Package

Sanders’s amendment would restore US funding to UNRWA, the most important aid agency working in Gaza.

Sen. Bernie Sanders appears before U.S. President Joe Biden takes the stage on Earth Day at Prince William Forest Park on April 22, 2024, in Triangle, Virginia.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that he would put forth an amendment to remove offensive military funding for Israel from a House-passed aid package that the Senate is set to consider this week.

The amendment would “cut billions in offensive military funding to Israel from the proposed national security supplemental package,” Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. The package, approved by the Republican-controlled House over the weekend, includes $17 billion in unconditional military assistance to the Israeli government, which stands accused on the world stage of perpetrating genocide in Gaza.

The senator said he would also offer an amendment to “protect essential humanitarian operations” in the Gaza Strip, where millions of people are facing the possibility of starvation due to Israel’s suffocating and illegal blockade. At least 28 children under the age of 12 have starved to death in Gaza in recent weeks.

Sanders’ amendment would restore U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the most important aid agency working in Gaza.

An independent report released Monday found that Israel has not provided any evidence to support its claim that a significant number of UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organizations. The U.S. suspended its UNRWA aid in late January in response to Israel’s unsubstantiated allegations against the agency’s workers, and the House-passed Israel legislation would prohibit funding for the organization.

Sanders said Monday that the Senate “should have a chance to debate and vote on the key components of such a massive package.”

“In poll after poll, Americans have showed their increasing disgust for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s war machine and the humanitarian disaster it has caused in Gaza,” the senator added. “Enough is enough. We cannot continue to fund this horrific war.”

A Senate vote on final passage of the White House-backed aid package — which also includes aid for Ukraine and Taiwan — is expected before Wednesday night. As Punchbowl reported, “each senator will be limited to just one hour of remarks” following procedural votes on Tuesday, so “it’s likely that those who oppose the measure won’t be able to drag this out much later than tonight.”

The Senate vote on whether to hand Israel billions more in unconditional military aid will come as the country’s military appears poised to escalate its devastating assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 34,000 people so far.

Satellite imagery obtained and analyzed by Al Jazeera shows that Israel has positioned “troops and vehicles at nearby army bases and outposts just outside the enclave.”

“The analysis indicates that Israel has deployed more than 800 military vehicles to two bases,” the outlet continued. “At least 120 vehicles are stationed at the northern border of the Gaza Strip and 700 are in the Negev desert, to the south. The satellite imagery also reveals that Israel has established nine military outposts just outside the enclave. Three were erected in November and December 2023 and six were set up between January and March of this year. The outposts house soldiers, operational command centers, and military vehicles.”

A U.S. State Department report released Monday acknowledges that Israel has been credibly accused of grave human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank, including extrajudicial killings and torture. U.S. law prohibits American military assistance for governments violating human rights, but the Biden administration has resisted global calls to cut off arms sales to Israel.

“The widespread nature of the abuses described in the human rights report is overshadowed by the State Department’s inaction on these same findings,” Raed Jarrar, advocacy director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, said Monday. “The State Department needs to read its own report and take immediate action against all abusive Israeli units.”

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