Bernie Sanders says US aid to Israel 'needs conditions' amid Gaza onslaught
Veteran US senator Bernie Sanders has said that Washington should halt its generous aid to Israel until there is "fundamental change in their military and political positions", angering some pro-Israel politicians.
"The US provides $3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel and the Biden administration wants $14.3 billion more," a statement released Saturday by Sanders' office read.
"The Netanyahu government, or hopefully a new Israeli government, must understand that not one penny will be coming to Israel from the US unless there is a fundamental change in their military and political positions."
The US House of Representatives earlier this month approved a huge boost in aid for Israel, weeks into a relentless Israeli onslaught on Gaza that has killed more than 12,000 people.
The Biden administration has lent almost unequivocal support to Israel for its attack on Gaza, asking only for the Israeli military to make adjustments to its tactics of warfare, including by "using smaller bombs".
Sanders, widely considered to be a "progressive", is a longtime critic of Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing politician who won elections to become Israel’s prime minister late last year.
The senator for Vermont has both before and since 7 October said that he hopes Netanyahu is booted out of office.
However, the 82-year-old Democrat has stopped short of joining the small but growing number of US politicians who have called for a ceasefire for Gaza.
His statement released Saturday appeared to skirt use of the term "ceasefire", instead urging for a "significant pause in military operations".
The statement also called for Gaza’s displaced, now numbering more that 1.5 million, to be allowed to return to their homes; a resumption of two-state solution talks; and an end to settler violence in the West Bank, among other positions.
Sanders’ call has sparked criticism from some Democratic representatives.
Congressman Brad Schneider called the conditioning of aid to Israel "misguided and dangerous".