Jacqueline Alemany / The Washington Post & CODEPINK
(May 20, 2021) — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is preparing to introduce a resolution on Thursday disapproving of the US sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, according to a draft obtained by The Washington Post.
The resolution aims to halt the planned sale to Israel by the Biden administration of JDAMs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and Small Diameter Bombs, as the worst hostilities in years continue between Israel and Hamas. The resolution needs only a simple majority to pass the Senate; but if it were to be vetoed by President Joe Biden, it would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to take effect.
“At a moment when US-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 said in a statement to The Post.
“I believe that the United States must help lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. We need to take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping do that, or whether it is simply fueling conflict.”
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) introduced a similar resolution on Wednesday opposing the sale of weapons to the Israeli government. House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats are expected to summon a senior Biden administration official to a meeting as soon as Thursday to discuss the arms deal.
“For decades, the US has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions.”
The congressional action comes as President Biden yesterday bluntly demanded a de-escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, opening a rare rift between the US and one of its closest allies. The president did so in the face of increasing criticism from some liberal Democrats who have loudly condemned what they see as American willingness to turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses Palestinians have experienced at the hands of Israel’s government.
It marks the first major dissension between progressives and Biden, who have been cheerleaders for the president’s ambitious economic agenda during the pandemic. But actually getting the resolution from congressional passage to enactment is a big hurdle.
Lawmakers have never successfully blocked a proposed arms sale through a joint resolution of disapproval, according to the Congressional Research Service, although it has passed them in recent years. Former president Donald Trump vetoed three resolutions passed by Congress in 2019 to stop arms sales benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after the House and Senate voted to block the arms deals worth more than $8 billion.
While Sanders’s resolution faces long odds, it appears to be guaranteed a vote in the Senate, according to procedures outlined in the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976. “In some way or another, this starts the ball rolling with the Senate voting in one way or another on this sale to Israel,” said a source familiar with Sanders’s thinking.
Sanders penned an op-ed for the New York Times last week, panning the US government for being too accommodating toward Israel. The Vermont senator also introduced a different resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire on Wednesday between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas — an alternative to Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) proposal to affirm US support for Israel.
“The devastation in Gaza is unconscionable,” Sanders said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “We must urge an immediate ceasefire.”
If the resolution does garner substantial backing from Senate Democrats, it would still need 51 votes (and passage in the House) to head to Biden’s desk. That 51st vote would have to come from Vice President Harris, who would be put in the awkward position of bucking her boss’s line on the conflict if she had to cast a tie-breaking vote.
Support for a cease-fire among Senate Democrats is growing.
Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) released a bipartisan statement last weekend calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a staunch defender of Israel, signed on to the statement and told reporters Monday he wanted to see a cease-fire “reached quickly.”
Schumer is up for re-election in New York next year and has otherwise been quiet on the issue roiling the Democratic Party.
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ACTION ALERT: Halt Arms Sales to Israel
Tell Members of Congress to Join Bernie and AOC to Block Arms Sales to Israel!
(May 19, 2021) — Israel receives $3.8 billion every year from the US in military “aid” to oppress and massacre Palestinians. In just 10 days in May 2021, Israel has massacred over 220 Palestinians in Gaza, almost one-third of them children. In the West Bank, they have been shooting protestors with live ammunition. So why has President Biden just approved the “sale” — it isn’t really a sale as Israel will be purchasing the weapons with the money the US gave them — of $735 million more in precision-guided weapons?
Tell your members of Congress to join the Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bills to block this newest sale to Israel!
Israel is using US “precision-guided weapons” to bomb the roads to hospitals right now. They are using them to bomb media offices, residential buildings, medical centers, and doctors.
Representative Ocasio-Cortez announced that she was introducing legislation to block this horrifying sale to Israel, so there is already some momentum in Congress! It is unconscionable that the United States should sell more weapons to a nation that is dropping bombs on civilians. Palestinians have no defenses or freedom of movement. Israel is actively bombing a population that cannot move or flee. It is a war crime.
In 2014, the Obama administration suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid that massacre in Gaza. In 1981, the Reagan administration suspended F-15&F-16 jets to Israel. Congress must now suspend the delivery of $735 million in precision-guided missiles.
The death toll of Palestinians is rising in Gaza as Israel escalates its horrific attacks and refuses ceasefire deals. Just two days ago, Israel refused to allow a Jordanian aid envoy, including a field hospital, access to Gaza. But the discursive tide is shifting in the United States and around the world as zionists lose their grip on the narrative. More people are calling the issue what it is: settler colonialism and apartheid. More people are speaking out than ever, and if we correctly harness this momentum, we can really affect change here. The first step is to stop arming the apartheid regime of Israel.
As Palestinians resist in Gaza, the West Bank and 1948 Palestine, people around the globe are standing in solidarity with them. In the words of Lula da Silva, “Those in power can kill one, two, or three roses, but they will never be able to stop the coming of spring”. The world is a better place when more people stand for justice. Join us!