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3 Jan, 2024 02:36

Bernie Sanders calls for defunding of Israeli war on Gaza

The self-professed democratic socialist US senator wants no more aid sent to Benjamin Netanyahu’s “right-wing” government
Bernie Sanders calls for defunding of Israeli war on Gaza

Israel should not get $10 billion in “unconditional military aid” to wage a “brutal war” on the Palestinians in Gaza, US Senator Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday. Sanders is a Democrat-allied Vermont independent who challenged Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination in 2016. 

Sanders issued a similar announcement last month, but said it would be appropriate to “support defense systems” that would help Israel defend itself from rocket and missile attacks. That qualification was entirely absent from his Tuesday statement, however, which described what’s going on in Gaza as a “brutal war against the Palestinian people” by the “right-wing” government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“While we recognize that Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attack began this war, we must also recognize that Israel’s military response has been grossly disproportionate, immoral, and in violation of international law,” said Sanders, who noted that Israel is using “US bombs, artillery shells, and other forms of weaponry” against Gaza.

The senator pointed out that “over 22,000 Palestinians have been killed” and another 57,000 have been wounded by Israeli strikes since October 7, while about 70% of Gaza has been destroyed or damaged and 85% of its total population has been displaced already.

“This cannot be allowed to continue,” said the 82-year-old Jewish senator. “The taxpayers of the United States must no longer be complicit in destroying the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza.”

His comments come as the US State Department has denounced statements made by two key Netanyahu allies calling for the permanent displacement of the Palestinians living in Gaza as “inflammatory and irresponsible.”

Washington’s official policy calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state and for Gaza to be administered by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu’s government has rejected both proposals.

The White House included funding for Israel in its $106 billion national security emergency spending request in October, bundling it with over $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine and other issues. It has been repeatedly rejected by Republicans in both the House and the Senate. The House Republicans passed a separate $14 billion Israel aid bill, which the Senate Democrats then blocked.

Last week, the State Department approved the delivery of $147.5 million worth of 155mm artillery shells to Israel, bypassing Congressional approval by citing a national emergency.