US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday introduced a resolution blocking a $735 million weapons sale to Israel, mirroring a symbolic action by the House of Representatives in response to conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
“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,” said Sanders, who was quoted by Reuters.
He added that Americans need to take a “hard look” at whether the weapons sales fuel conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs.
President Joe Biden’s administration approved the potential sale of $735 million in weapons to Israel this year, and sent it to Congress on May 5 for formal review.
The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees all backed the sale during an informal review before May 5. Lawmakers have predicted that efforts to stop the sale would fail, given traditionally strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for arms sales to Israel.
Sanders’ resolution follows a measure introduced by US Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan and Rashida Tlaib.
Sanders, who is Jewish, has criticized Israel’s policies in the past. He recently responded to the Muslim Arab riots and violence against Jewish civilians, tweeting that Israel should not evict residents of Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
"The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward," Sanders wrote in a tweet.
Last month, Sanders said that the United States should be able to determine how Israel uses the aid it gives to the state, and should restrict aid in response to moves that would undermine the peace process.
Last year, he added his name to a letter by Democrats against Israel's plans to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
In 2019, Sanders caused an uproar when he told the J Street conference that the US should redirect its aid to Israel and give it to Gaza instead.
Despite all these, he has refuted claims that he is anti-Israel and insisted that he is simply advocating for a foreign policy “that not only protects Israel, but deals with the suffering of the Palestinian people as well.”