OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
1:16 PM – Tuesday, January 16, 2024
Vermont Senator and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is calling on the United States Senate to vote on a bill that would potentially freeze military aid to Israel, unless the State Department provides a report on “possible human rights violations in Gaza” by taking advantage of a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sanders (I-Vt.) plans on compelling the Senate to vote on his verdict, leading the State Department to examine whether Israel possibly performed any human rights abuses that utilized United States equipment or aid in its attack against Hamas in Gaza.
Sanders’ resolution, if approved, would require the State Department to disclose any abuses of human rights that occurred during Israel’s retaliatory war efforts and blockade of Gaza after the initial attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas on October 7th.
If Sanders’ resolution is authorized, it would mandate that the State Department produce a report to Congress within 30 days “examining any human rights violations that may have occurred in the course of the military campaign being carried out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government,” according to Sanders.
In addition, Sanders has called Israel’s retaliatory attacks “indiscriminate and disproportionate military operations.”
The Foreign Assistance Act’s section that permits Congress to direct the State Department to report on human rights issues pertaining to any nation receiving security assistance from the United States is the basis for the resolution.
Since the Foreign Assistance Act was passed into law in 1976, Sanders claims that Congress has not yet conducted a vote on a request of this kind.
The resolution was initially proposed in December by Sanders, who often cooperates with his Democrat colleagues. The resolution cannot be changed due to the fact that it is privileged and only needs a simple majority to pass.
However, Congress would still need to navigate a different resolution on altering security assistance provided to Israel.
The resolution must pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by President Joe Biden, even if the State Department eventually produces a report to Congress.
“In essence, we will be voting on a very simple question: Do you support asking the State Department whether human rights violations may have occurred using U.S. equipment or assistance in this war? This resolution is not prescriptive — it does not alter aid to Israel in any way. It simply requests that the State Department report on how our aid is being used,” Sanders asserted last week on the Senate floor.
Sanders, who is Jewish, had volunteered his time in Israel back in the 1960s and previously showed support for Israel following the Hamas attack on October 7th that took at least 1,200 innocent lives. However, he reportedly changed his position drastically after notable leftist activists began to express outrage towards him.
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