US Senate rejects Bernie Sanders’ call for inquiry on Israeli rights violations in Gaza

US Senate rejects Bernie Sanders’ call for inquiry on Israeli rights violations in Gaza
A vast majority of US senators voted against the resolution that would have forced the State Department to conduct a human rights inquiry on Gaza.
3 min read
17 January, 2024
The US Senate has rejected Senator Bernie Sanders' bid for an inquiry on Israel's human rights record [Getty]

The US Senate on Tuesday rejected a resolution put forward by Senator Bernie Sanders that would have forced the State Department to produce a report on whether Israel is committing human rights violations in the Palestinian enclave.

In its first vote on Israel's war on Gaza, which has lasted more than three months and killed over 24,000 people, the senate voted 72-11 against the resolution.

Among the 11 that backed the measure were Republican senator Rand Paul and Democrats including Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, Peter Welch. 

Introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, the resolution aimed to direct the State Department "to provide any credible information it may have on potential violations of internationally recognised human rights by Israel in its campaign in Gaza".

During his address to the Senate, Sanders said the resolution emphasised "on the denial of right to life caused by indiscriminate or disproportionate military operations, as well as by restrictions on humanitarian access." 

However, Sanders said ahead of the vote that the measure would not change sending aid to Israel, but would demand "a report on how US aid is being used."

Had the Senate passed the resolution, it would have mandated the State Department to review reports of Israeli human rights violations to US Congress within a month. The failure to submit the evaluation would have halted US military aid to Israel. 

Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the US, visited the Senate prior to the vote and met with leading senators - a visit that was first reported by a congressional aide who told US news outlet HuffPost on the development. 

The resolution also contained a provision that would permit Congress to ask the State Department to analyse the human rights record of any country that is the recipient of US aid. 

The Vermont senator said that some of the reasons behind his push for the inquiry were "the scale of destruction in Gaza", the use of US weapons to destroy Gaza and kill civilians, and the "very extreme" rhetoric used by members of members of Netanyahu's far-right government.

Though the US has increasingly been expressing its discontent over aspects of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, it has continued to sell weaponry to Israel.

South African lawyers have since announced that they are preparing to legal action against the US, as well as the UK, over alleged complicity in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.