US Senate rejects Bernie Sanders' push to link Israeli aid to human rights |  news

Senators overwhelmingly reject a resolution that would have imposed conditions on billions the US sends to Israel.

The US Senate has rejected a resolution calling for conditions on security aid to Israel.

Senators overwhelmingly voted against the motion late Tuesday. It will demand a freeze on security assistance to Israel unless the State Department prepares a report within 30 days investigating whether Israel committed human rights abuses in its campaign in Gaza.

Seventy-two senators voted to set aside the resolution, with 11 against, easily finding the simple majority needed to pass the resolution in the 100-member chamber.

The vote was forced by Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent running with Democrats. Although the resolution was defeated, it reflected concern among some of President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats, particularly on the left, about Israel's continued supply of weapons to Palestinian civilians in the Gaza conflict.

“We must ensure that US aid is used in accordance with human rights and our own laws,” Sanders said in a speech urging support for the resolution. He lamented that the Senate had failed to consider any measure that looked at the impact of war on civilians.

The White House has said it opposes a resolution that would have imposed conditions on security aid to Israel.

Senators who opposed the move said it sent the wrong message at a time when Israel said it was moving to a more targeted campaign.

“This decision is not only baseless but also dangerous. It sends absolutely the wrong signal at the wrong time,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

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In recent years the United States has provided Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid annually, ranging from fighter jets to powerful bombs. In the midst of the war in Gaza, President Joe Biden asked Congress to authorize an additional $14 billion.

'Can't Turn'

Sanders' resolution was filed under the Foreign Assistance Act, which allows Congress to order states to provide human rights reports and other information about any country that receives U.S. defense assistance.

“Millions of children in Gaza, innocent children, are starving before our eyes. We can't go back. We have to act,” Sanders said.

“Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the UN and others, despite the growing humanitarian crisis, the situation has actually worsened for the people in need, these children, to get help.”

If the resolution is passed, the State Department must report to Congress within 30 days. After receiving the report, Congress may consider another resolution proposing changes in security assistance to Israel.

The White House has rejected Sanders' approach as the Biden administration seeks a shift from Israel and to ensure support at home and abroad against a stirring backlash to the devastating scenes from Gaza.

Biden's administration says it has pushed Israel to minimize civilian casualties, but Israel says it will not rest until Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza, is wiped out from the enclave.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas launched a surprise attack across the border fence, leading to the deaths of 1,139 people.

In Gaza, at least 24,285 people have been killed in the besieged area amid attacks by Israeli forces, according to the latest count by health officials. Thousands more bodies are feared to be trapped in the rubble.

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Israel's bombardment has driven most of Gaza's 2.3 million people from their homes, some of them multiple times, causing a humanitarian crisis, with food, fuel and medical supplies running low amid Israel's blockade of Gaza.

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