US senator Bernie Sanders to vote against Israel funding bill
US Senator Bernie Sanders has said that he will vote against a supplemental funding bill for Israel, in a break with the Democratic Party.
He made the announcement Monday evening during a speech on the Senate floor, in which he spoke adamantly about the toll the ongoing conflict has taken on Palestinians, arguing that $10.1 billion in unconditional military aid to Israel would be irresponsible.
"At a time when some 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in the last two months, two-thirds of whom are women and children, and tens and thousands more have been injured, at a time when 1.8 million people - Palestinians - have been displaced from their homes and are struggling every day," the Vermont senator said, as he threw up his arms in exasperation.
"At a time when over 250 people have been killed in the West Bank - I'm not talking about Gaza - the West Bank, since 7 October, and more than 1,000 Palestinians have been driven off their land in the West Bank. In the midst of all of that, I do not believe we should be appropriating over $10 billion for the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government to continue its current military approach," he said, describing Netanyahu's actions as immoral and against international law, which he believes the US should not be complicit in.
Sanders, who has faced criticism from the left for not calling for a ceasefire, continued by clarifying that he believes Israel has the right to defend itself, something he says the US should continue to support, given Hamas's surprise attack on 7 October. However, he said he doesn't believe Israel has the right to wage an all-out war on Gaza's civilian population.
"Do not count me in to give another US$10 billion to a right-wing extremist government in Israel," he said adamantly.
He also questioned the need for large-scale overseas funding while working families in the US live from paycheck to paycheck.
"I am deeply concerned that this legislation has no investments to address the needs of working families in the United States," he said, emphasising that the US has childcare, healthcare and housing crises.
Speaking to the bill in question, he said that the billions being allocated should be part of the base defence budget and handled through normal appropriations, not allocated as emergency spending. He suggested that tens of billions could be allocated to domestic services.