Bernie Sanders
Bernie SandersReuters

The US Senate on Tuesday rejected a resolution, submitted by Senator Bernie Sanders, that would have forced an investigation into human rights abuses in the Israel-Hamas war, a step toward potentially limiting US military aid to Israel.

The Senate voted 72-11 to table the resolution, effectively killing it.

Had the resolution been approved, it would have required the US State Department to, within 30 days, produce a report on whether the Israeli war effort in Gaza is violating human rights and international accords. If so, US military aid to Israel could be quickly halted.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Monday, ahead of the vote, Sanders said, “To my mind, Israel has the absolute right to defend itself from Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attack on October 7, no question about that.”

“But what Israel does not have a right to do — using military assistance from the United States — does not have the right to go to war against the entire Palestinian people. And in my view, that’s what has been happening,” he added.

The White House rejected Sanders’ approach as “unworkable”.

“We do not believe that this resolution is the right vehicle to address these issues. And we don’t think now is the right time. It’s unworkable, quite frankly,” said a statement from White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

“The Israelis have indicated they are preparing to transition their operations to a much lower intensity. And we believe that transition will be helpful both in terms of reducing civilian casualties, as well as increasing humanitarian assistance,” Kirby said.

Sanders has long advocated for the US to condition its aid to Israel. He has been critical of Israel’s government in the past, referring to it as “racist”.

Sanders recently called on Congress to reject the $10.1 billion in unconditional military aid being considered for Israel, saying the funds would be used by the Israeli government “to continue its brutal war against the Palestinian people.”

He warned US President Joe Biden in an interview over the weekend that his support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza could affect his standing among young progressive voters during the election in November.

Despite the fact that Sanders has become steadily more critical of Israel’s war in Gaza, he continues to resist calling for a permanent ceasefire, which he says would open the door to further Hamas attacks.