Tuesday, February 06, 2024 by Arsenio Toledo
Jewish Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) plans to introduce an amendment that would remove more than $10 billion intended for Israel from the foreign aid supplemental package requested by President Joe Biden.
The Biden administration, with bipartisan support, proposed the $10.1 billion package to help the extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel pay for offensive weaponry. In a statement, Sanders’ office made clear that the amendment “preserves funding for defensive systems that will protect Israeli civilians against incoming missile and rocket attacks.” Around $4 billion has been allotted for Israel’s defensive weapons systems.
“Twenty-seven thousand dead – two-thirds of them women and children. Sixty-seven thousand wounded. 1.8 million displaced from their homes. Seventy percent of housing units damaged or destroyed. And now, hundreds of thousands of children facing starvation,” said Sanders in a statement. “This is unacceptable. The United States cannot be complicit in this humanitarian disaster.” (Related: Pro-war Senate blocks measure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders to FREEZE Israeli aid and probe Gaza war crimes.)
“That is why I will be offering an amendment to the supplemental bill to ensure zero funding for the continuation of Netanyahu’s illegal, immoral war against the Palestinian people,” concluded Sanders’ statement.
As of press time, estimates suggest that the Israeli government’s offensive has killed at least 27,131 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including at least 11,500 children, and displaced nearly two million people.
In a prior statement, Sanders noted that the U.S. needs to stop providing funding to Netanyahu’s deadly offensive because it erodes America’s “credibility in the international community and what this country stands for.”
“If we continue to fund Netanyahu’s indiscriminate war, how can we, with a straight face, criticize [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine as a war crime?” said Sanders. “How can we criticize China, Saudi Arabia and other countries for their many violations of human rights? Who in the world will not see through the hypocrisy?”
“For the sake of the Palestinian people and our own standing in the world, we must not provide another dollar for the Netanyahu war machine,” he added.
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicated on Thursday, Feb. 1, that the Senate is close to finalizing the text of the national security supplemental package, which will also include funding for more military aid to Ukraine and for additional border security measures at the southern border with Mexico. Schumer has indicated he wants a first vote on the national security supplemental “no later than Wednesday.”
Burgess Everett, Politico’s congressional reporter, noted that Sanders’ amendment is unlikely to pass due to Congress’ very pro-Israel nature, but it could “spark debate” that could sway public opinion to being more critical of Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s conflict.
But even this may not be enough, as House Republicans are preparing their own supplemental military aid package that could provide as much as $17.6 billion worth of taxpayer-funded aid to Israel for more defensive and offensive weaponry.
While Associated Press congressional reporter Kevin Freking noted that the Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to go along with the measure, it does give Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) and other House Republicans the chance to show the public and Tel Aviv that they unconditionally support Israel.
A statement from Johnson makes it clear that the House GOP caucus’s other goal in proposing the $17.6 billion package is to indicate their desire to be included by the Senate in negotiations for more military aid for Israel, claiming that doing so could provide swift consideration for any legislation.
“As I have said consistently for the past three months, the House will have to work its will on these issues and our priorities will need to be addressed,” said Johnson.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) released the text of the House’s version of the military aid package for Israel. It would provide Tel Aviv with $4 billion to replenish its missile defense systems and $1.2 billion for munitions to counter short-range rocket and mortar threats. The bill also includes billions in additional funding for the procurement of advanced weapons systems and to enhance the production of artillery and other offensive munitions.
The bill also provides $4.4 billion to replenish U.S. stocks of weapons provided to Israel and $3.3 billion to provide additional funding for current U.S. Armed Forces operations in the region.
The U.S. has already provided Israel with more than 10,000 tons of military equipment within less than four months.
“Israel is erasing generations in Gaza, and its soldiers are killing children in numbers competing with the cruelest of wars,” noted Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist and columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
“This will not and cannot be forgotten,” he added. “How can a people ever forget those who killed its children in such a manner? How can people of conscience around the world remain silent over such mass killing of children?”
“The U.S. has been complicit in every genocidal action that Israel has taken in Gaza, continuing to provide it with military equipment and political protection even after months of horrific evidence of its crimes in Gaza,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World Now. “Suspending military aid may at least protect the U.S. from itself being found liable for complicity in Israel’s genocide.”
Watch this clip from “No Spin News” on The First TV as political commentator Bill O’Reilly discusses how Sanders is urging Biden to “change course” on his stance on the genocide in Gaza or lose the support of progressives and lose the presidential election.
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