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First effort to scrutinize Israel’s war fails in Senate

First effort to scrutinize Israel’s war fails in Senate

Resolution, introduced by Sen. Sanders, would have forced ‘modest’ restraints on the use of US weapons in Gaza

Reporting | QiOSK

The first Congressional vote focused on Israel’s conduct during its ongoing war on Gaza took place on Tuesday evening. It failed when a motion to table the resolution passed by 72 votes to 11.


The resolution in question, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last month, would have forced the State Department to issue a report detailing whether Israel was using weapons provided by Washington to commit human rights violations.


The eleven Senators who voted to advance the resolution were Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sanders.


During his remarks on the floor, Sanders said that his resolution was “not a radical idea” but rather “a very modest, common sense proposal.”


“This is a simple request for information,” Sanders said. “That is all this resolution is about. It does not alter aid to Israel in any way, it simply requests a report on how US aid is being used.” As Sanders noted, serious discussion about unconditional support for Israel’s war has been severely lacking in the U.S. Congress.


The Senator from Vermont went on to describe why this report would be important, describing the striking figures of death, destruction, and displacement in Gaza. Over 24,000 Palestinians have been killed, 1.9 million forced from their homes, and more than 46,000 homes completely destroyed in the 100 days since Israel officially declared war.


“As we all know, the military campaign being waged by the right-wing Netanyahu government has led to massive destruction and widespread civilian harm,” Sanders said. “This has been far and away the most intensive bombing campaign of the 21st century.”


“When there's been this level of casualties, and we are this closely tied to it, it is the right thing to do to get the type of information that would come through this request,” said. Merkley, speaking in support of the resolution.


The resolution was introduced under section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act. This national security tool has not been used to successfully get a report from the State Department since 1976. Had the resolution passed, the State Department would have had 30 days to submit its report, after which the Senate would have the opportunity to vote to either continue, alter, or terminate aid to Israel.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke out in opposition to Sanders’s resolution, calling it “the most tone deaf thing, maybe in the history of the Senate.”


Graham said that he could “only imagine the joy that terrorist groups throughout the world have that we've been talking about such a proposal.” The senator also used his time to blast calls for a ceasefire, saying that one would allow Hamas to regroup, even though the resolution makes no mention of a ceasefire and Sanders himself has not called for a ceasefire in Gaza.


Last week, 75 organizations, including the Quincy Institute, which publishes RS, signed a letter in support of the resolution.


“S.Res.504 offers an opportunity to affirm Congress’s important oversight role, mandating that the Biden administration document and report on any human rights violations committed by the Israeli government,” the letter read. “Congress should ensure that arms transfers and military aid provided to Israel, or any country, are consistent with U.S. law and policy, international law, and civilian protection responsibilities. The resolution would be an important step toward these goals.”

Photo: C-SPAN

Reporting | QiOSK
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