Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a resolution on Thursday aimed at blocking a planned $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons from the U.S. to Israel. And Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan and Rashida Tlaib, introduced a similar measure in the House on Wednesday.
According to a draft of the resolution, first reported by the Washington Post, Sanders is looking to stop the planned sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) and Small Diameter Bombs as hostilities continue between the Israeli military and Hamas in and around Gaza. Congress has the power to vote on a resolution of disapproval opposing a weapons sale within 15 days and can block or modify the sale at any point until delivery.
Sanders released a statement on Thursday saying that the U.S. needs to “take a hard look” into whether weapons sales like these are “simply fueling conflict.”
“At a moment when U.S.-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. “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.”
On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pocan introduced a similar resolution in the House. “For decades, the U.S. 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. At a time when so many, including President Biden, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence.”
Tlaib, who is the first woman of Palestinian descent to serve in Congress, also issued a statement, saying, “Approving this sale now, while failing to even try to use it as leverage for a ceasefire, sends a clear message to the world — the U.S. is not interested in peace, and does not care about the human rights and lives of Palestinians,” she said.
Momentum is shifting toward a ceasefire, Reuters has reported, citing both a senior Hamas official and an Egyptian security mediation source who said they had agreed to curtail “hostilities but details needed to be worked out.”
On Wednesday Biden publicly stated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should seek “a significant de-escalation.” The White House released more details from a call between the two leaders earlier this week, saying, “The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.”
According to Reuters, since hostilities began on May 10, 232 Palestinians — including 65 children and 39 women — have been killed and more than 1,900 have been wounded. The Israeli military says 12 people have been killed by rocket attacks from Gaza.