As the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas rages on, Senator Bernie Sanders will propose a resolution that would aim to prevent a U.S. weapons sale to Israel, in another sign of progressive discomfort around America’s policy toward its longtime ally.
The Washington Post reports that Sanders’s bill will aim to stop the sales of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs worth $735 million.
“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 told the Post.
Even if the bill garners 50 votes in the Senate, which is highly unlikely, it would need a two-thirds Senate and House majority to override a Biden veto. Though it won’t succeed, the proposed legislation is a sign of the rift between progressives in Congress and the Biden administration on Israel.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been heavily critical of Israel and the Biden administration’s acquiescence to its actions, proposed a similar bill in the House last week, along with Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Mark Pocan. Tlaib, another member of the House’s “Squad,” told Biden personally that he should be doing more to end the violence. Such lawmakers represent the increasing uneasiness many Americans — including many Jews — feel about Israel’s prosecution of the current conflict, during which it has killed hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as well as about the country’s treatment of Palestinians more generally.
Biden has apparently been taking a tougher tone with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in private than in his public remarks, in which he has expressed the usual staunch support for Israel that has been the presidential norm for decades. Biden reportedly told Netanyahu that he expected a major de-escalation to go into effect on Wednesday — an expectation Netanyahu pointedly did not fulfill. The PM is expected to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire at a cabinet meeting on Friday.