Skip to main content

Bernie Sanders introduces Senate resolution to block $735 million weapons sale to Israel

Sanders' move will force a vote in the Senate on whether or not to block the arms sale.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to reporters following a procedural vote on the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation at the U.S. Capitol on April 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.

US Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a resolution Thursday that will force the Senate to vote on whether or not to block a controversial $735 million sale of bombs and bomb guidance equipment to Israel. The move came shortly before Israel announced it had reached a cease-fire with Hamas, set to begin at 2 a.m. Friday.

The move marks an unprecedented challenge by lawmakers to US aid to Israel in recent decades, a subject that has become increasingly controversial in progressive circles in US politics.

But the resolution faces significant hurdles in the upper chamber and, if it were to pass the Senate, would likely fail to meet the required two-thirds override vote if vetoed by President Joe Biden,

Sanders’ move comes after a group of progressive Democrats in the House raised a last-minute resolution opposing the sale, first reported by Al-Monitor.

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and others raised the resolution after the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., backed away from a plan Wednesday to petition the Biden administration to delay the sale.

“The United States should be prioritizing humanitarian aid and upholding human rights, not rushing through arms sales that could fuel further violence,” the progressive lawmakers said in a statement.

The Biden administration notified Congress of the sale May 5, almost a week before Hamas and the Islamic Jihad started launching rockets into Israel, kicking off the latest conflict. But the administration did not publicly announce the deal, in line with policy on direct-licensing transfers, a US official said.

The proposal is for a license for Boeing to sell small-diameter bombs and JDAM guidance kits, which have reportedly been used in Israel’s unrelenting strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Lawmakers do not have to approve the move for it to take effect, but have 15 days to raise an objection to it. Sanders just met the deadline.

Palestinian health authorities said more than 230 people had been killed in the densely populated Gaza Strip since fighting began May 10. Militant groups have sent thousands of “dumb” rockets deep into Israeli territory with no precautions against hitting Israeli civilians; 12 Israelis have been killed.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expected to see a de-escalation in the fighting the same day. Netanyahu reportedly replied noncommittally. On Thursday evening, Netanyahu's office released a statement saying the country's Security Cabinet had voted to approve a "mutual and unconditional" cease-fire.

Official statements suggest Biden had resisted rising calls from Democrats to pressure Netanyahu for an immediate cease-fire to the conflict, though transcript of their calls have not been made public.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial