Progressive Dems Call to Condition Israel Aid on Scaling Down Gaza War
The Gaza war has widened a rift between progressive and moderate Democrats in the US Congress: while the former reportedly want to condition aid to Israel on scaling down its military operation in the strip, the latter are fretting and fuming.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has called upon US lawmakers to force Israel to change its military and political positions by conditioning aid to the Jewish state on its conduct.
"The US provides $3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel and the Biden administration wants $14.3 billion more," Sanders stated on Saturday, outlining demands on Tel Aviv which included a significant pause in military operations in Gaza; no re-occupation or blockade of the strip; ending of settler violence and expansion in the West Bank; and immediate talks on a two-state solution when the war is over.
Tel Aviv "must understand" that no money will be coming to Israel from the US unless the Jewish state agrees to the aforementioned conditions, argued the senator.
According to Axios, Sanders is hardly alone in pushing ahead with the initiative. The media noted that American lawmakers are currently facing enormous pressure
from pro-Palestinian activists.
For its part, Politico insists that the debate is preliminary and one cannot be sure that the discussion will lead to any congressional action, citing sources on Capitol Hill. The media added that the White House is aware of the conversation and warned that its allies may openly push for conditions in the near future. However, earlier, Vice President Kamala Harris made it clear: "We are not going to create any conditions on the support that we are giving Israel to defend itself."
Meanwhile, moderate Democrats have expressed dissatisfaction with Sanders' initiative: "Any legislation that conditions security aid to our key democratic ally, Israel, is a nonstarter and will lose scores of votes," stated Josh Gottheimer, a Democratic representative from New Jersey. Gottheimer's party fellow Brad Schneider told the press that those pushing for imposing conditions on Israeli aid "serve only the interests of those opposed to Israel and to peace."
Still, the US media has drawn attention to the fact that as Gaza civilian casualties soar, the number of Democrat lawmakers calling for a ceasefire is also increasing. Thus, this figure has grown from roughly a dozen last month to over 30, including several Jewish-American congressmen.
Advocating further humanitarian aid for the strip, 13 Senate Democrats said in a joint statement that "much more must be done to protect civilian life."
"The failure to adequately protect non-combatant civilians risks dramatic escalation of the conflict in the region and imposes severe damage on prospects for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians," the Democratic lawmakers underscored.