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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on President Biden to cut $10.1 billion in proposed aid to Israel in a letter that called the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza “mass atrocities.” to which the United States is complicit.
“Israel’s military campaign will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters of our modern history,” Sanders wrote. “And it is happening with bombs and equipment manufactured and provided by the United States and heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. Tragically, we are complicit in this bloodbath.”
Sanders sent the letter the same day Biden made some of his most critical comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s military campaign, telling donors that he wanted the nation to stop “indiscriminate bombing.” But the president has also called on Congress to send more than $14 billion in funds to Israel to support the election campaign and has so far resisted any discussion among congressional liberals about limiting the funds to supporting the enormous number of civilians To curb deaths in the conflict.
Following the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, at least 18,412 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The majority are women and children. According to the United Nations, the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza have been internally displaced, with disease, hunger and other deprivations creating a humanitarian catastrophe in the region.
In an interview, Sanders said Biden was “deeply concerned” about the civilian death toll — but that concern is not enough.
“We need to turn this concern into reality,” he said. “It would be completely hypocritical for us as a nation to provide another $10 billion in unconditional funding to a right-wing, extremist government under Netanyahu… to continue this war.”
Sanders suggested that Biden ask Congress for $4 billion to fund Israel’s Iron Dome and other defense capabilities.
“I think there are a lot of senators who are willing to put conditions on aid to Israel,” Sanders said. “I’ll go one step further here and say: yes, I support conditionality and have helped advance the effort. But I think at this point we have to say: No, do you continue this military policy? Zero dollars.”
Biden’s funding request for Israel, Ukraine and other national security priorities failed in Congress amid Republican demands for immigration reform, and Sanders acknowledged he was unsure when or if that debate would take place.
In his letter, the senator compared the damage inflicted on Gaza in just two months to the damage in Dresden after the war, when, according to one estimate, about half of the German city’s homes were destroyed during Allied bombing, leaving 25,000 people dead.
“This represents not only a humanitarian disaster, but a mass atrocity,” Sanders wrote of conditions in Gaza.
Sanders also called on Biden to support the humanitarian ceasefire resolution, which the United States vetoed at a recent UN Security Council meeting. The liberal former presidential candidate, who is Jewish and spent time in Israel as a young man, was criticized by some of his former supporters for not calling for a ceasefire in the conflict. But Sanders said he supported the U.N. resolution because he believes it is a temporary, rather than permanent, humanitarian ceasefire.
“In the long term, I don’t know how you can achieve a lasting ceasefire when Hamas has made it very clear that that’s not what they want or what they believe in,” Sanders said. “And at the same time, Netanyahu and his right-wing government want to continue the war. So I think it gives false hope.”
Source : www.washingtonpost.com