Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes giving Israel $10 billion in aid

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has come out against giving about $10 billion in emergency U.S. aid to Israel as part of a national security spending bill.

“I do not believe we should be appropriating over $10 billion for the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government to continue its current military approach,” Sanders said in remarks Monday on the Senate floor, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Sanders, a longtime critic of Netanyahu, said, “What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral, it is in violation of international law, and the United States should not be complicit in those actions.”

The independent senator said it is appropriate for the United States to support defense systems, like the Iron Dome, to protect Israeli citizens from incoming rocket attacks.

“But I believe that it would be irresponsible for us to provide an additional $10.1 billion in unconditional military aid that will allow the Netanyahu government to continue its current offensive military approach,” he said.

Sanders said Israel’s “indiscriminate approach” is “in my view, offensive to most Americans,” saying he urges Israel to dramatically change its approach to the war against Hamas. For years, the senator has also railed against exorbitant spending on military purposes in general.

Israel has repeatedly said that it has not attacked Gaza indiscriminately and that the Israel Defense Forces is doing whatever it can to minimize civilian deaths. Since negotiations over Israeli hostages collapsed last week, Israel has expanded its military campaign in Gaza, pushing into the Hamas stronghold of Khan Younis in the southern part of the strip.

Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the White House has called on Congress to approve aid to Israel and Ukraine, but Republicans oppose any measure that excludes provisions to address security on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., took a procedural step Monday evening that would set up the process for considering the national security supplemental bill.

Negotiations, however, have stalled between Democrats and Republicans over the border. Republicans are saying they would filibuster President Joe Biden’s aid package unless Democrats agree to tighten U.S. asylum and parole laws in immigration proceedings.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., warned of serious consequences if Congress fails to pass funding.

“It’s going to be a desperate situation,” he told reporters Monday. “It’s going to hurt Ukraine. On the humanitarian side, it’s going to be very painful. And I’m sure it’ll be discouraging to those who support Israel’s efforts against Hamas.”

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