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Sanders Resolution Aims To Have US ‘Reckon With Its Complicity’ in Gaza

"This is a humanitarian cataclysm, and it is being done with American bombs and money," says the Vermont senator. "We need to face up to that fact—and then we need to end our complicity in those actions."

Bernie Sanders, Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.O)

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution Thursday that would cut off all security assistance to Israel if the U.S. State Department fails to quickly produce a report on the country's human rights practices, which have faced heightened scrutiny and condemnation during the devastating assault on Gaza.

Sanders' (I-Vt.) resolution is privileged, meaning that after 10 days the senator can force a vote on discharging the measure from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The resolution requires just simple-majority support to pass out of committee and clear the full Senate. It would then have to get past the House and President Joe Biden.

Under the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), the U.S. is barred from providing security aid to any government engaged in flagrant human rights abuses. As Sanders' office explains in a summary of the new resolution, Section 502B(c) of the FAA "allows Congress to request information on a particular country's human rights practices and to alter or terminate U.S. security assistance to that country in light of the information received."

Should Sanders' resolution pass, the U.S. State Department would be required within 30 days to submit a report on Israel's human rights practices, including information "concerning alleged violations of internationally recognized human rights by the government of Israel" and the U.S. role in such violations.

The resolution, if approved, would cut off all security assistance to Israel if the State Department fails to produce the required report. If the report is submitted, lawmakers "may at any time thereafter adopt a joint resolution conditioning, restricting, terminating, or continuing security assistance" to Israel, according to Sanders' office.

That resolution would also be privileged, requiring a simple majority vote in the House and Senate and the signature of Biden, whose administration has opposed conditioning aid to Israel and worked to expedite arms transfers even as he has raised concerns about the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.

"The scale of the suffering in Gaza is unimaginable—it will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history," Sanders said in a statement. "This is a humanitarian cataclysm, and it is being done with American bombs and money. We need to face up to that fact—and then we need to end our complicity in those actions."

The text of Sanders' resolution runs through just some of the horrors that Gazans have experienced over the past two months, including the Israeli military's killing of around 19,000 people, the large-scale destruction of homes and other civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of more than 85% of the territory's population of 2.3 million.

"The Israeli military has made extensive use of Mark 84 2,000-pound bombs, Mark 83 1,000-pound bombs, Mark 82 500-pound bombs, and 155mm artillery in densely populated urban areas with a large civilian presence," the resolution states, noting that such weaponry is supplied by the U.S.

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Sanders, who has faced progressive criticism for refusing to demand a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, has urged the Biden administration to withdraw its support for the roughly $10 billion in military aid that Congress is considering providing to the Israeli government as it commits mass atrocities in the Gaza Strip.

"We all know Hamas' brutal terrorist attack began this war," Sanders said Thursday. "But the Netanyahu government's indiscriminate bombing is immoral, it is in violation of international law, and the Congress must demand answers about the conduct of this campaign. A just cause for war does not excuse atrocities in the conduct of that war."

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Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

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