Sanders Tells US to Follow Canada’s Example: Halt Arms Exports to Israel

March 24th, 2024 - by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

Sanders: “The US Should Not Provide
Another Nickel for Netanyahu’s War Machine”
Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

(March 20, 2024) — US Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that the Biden administration must follow Canada’s government in halting arms exports to Israel, a call that came after humanitarian groups refuted the Israeli government’s claim that its use of American weaponry in Gaza has been in line with international law.

Sanders (I-Vt.) said the Canadian Parliament was “absolutely right” to vote to stop weapons exports to Israel, whose military has killed more than 31,800 people in Gaza in less than six months—often using explosives, ammunition, and other equipment supplied by the US, Canada, Germany, and other countries.

“Given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, including widespread and growing starvation, the US should not provide another nickel for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s war machine,” said Sanders.

Canadian lawmakers on Monday approved a nonbinding motion calling on the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime.”

Shortly following the vote, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told the Toronto Star that the government would stop exporting arms to Israel in line with the motion’s demand. In the three months after the Hamas-led attack on October 7, Canada exported at least $28.5 million worth of military equipment to Israel, according to Global Affairs Canada.

“This is an important step,” Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East wrote in response to Joly, “but we need to make sure that Canada stops the transfer of all military exports, period, without any loopholes.”

The US is a far bigger weapons supplier for Israel than Canada. Since October 7, the Biden administration has approved more than 100separate arms sales—collectively worth billions of dollars—to Israel even amid massive and growing evidence that the country’s military is using American-made weapons to commit atrocities against civilians in Gaza.

In a new memo to the Biden administration, Oxfam and Human Rights Watch noted that Israeli forces “routinely” drop “2,000-pound bombs on densely populated areas in Gaza.”

“According to The Washington Post,” the memo states, “Israeli forces dropped over 22,000 US-origin munitions on Gaza during the first 45 days of the hostilities. The United States has reportedly transferred at least 5,000 2,000-pound ‘dumb bombs’ to Israel since October 7.”

Last week, prompted by a new Biden administration policy, Israel’s defense minister reportedly provided the White House with a written assurance that “Israel will use US weapons according to international law and allow US-supported humanitarian aid into Gaza.” Critics dismissed Israel’s pledge as a “sick joke.”

But at least one key Biden administration official appears satisfied. HuffPost‘s Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported that US Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew on Tuesday “privately endorsed Israel’s claims it’s abiding by US law in using American weapons [and] sending aid to Gaza.”

According to Ahmed, Lew’s move alarmed US officials who believe the Israeli government’s claims are untrue.

“I used to advise the US State Department on law of war assurances,” Brian Finucane of the International Crisis Group wrote in response to Ahmed’s reporting. “If Ambassador Lew buys these Israeli assurances, I have a bridge he’ll also be interested in purchasing.”

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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