Days Before Approving Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, State Department Agreed to Contentious Bomb Sale to Israel

Against the backdrop of new weapons sales, humanitarian aid “is a Band-Aid on a bullet wound, and the US is paying for the Band-Aid, the bullet, and the gun,” Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the human rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now, said in an interview. “Humanitarian aid is important, but the US government should stop its support for Israel’s blockade and attacks on Gaza rather than subsidizing the status quo.

The approval of the export license for the arms sale, which progressive legislators had tried to block at an earlier stage, immediately spurred opposition from Senator Bernie Sanders. On Friday, Sanders was notified that the sale had gone through and responded by placing a hold on all State Department nominees, blocking Congress from considering them for diplomatic posts, the Sanders office told Jewish Currents. After the administration committed to humanitarian aid for the rebuilding of Gaza, Sanders lifted the hold.

While Sanders strongly supports Biden’s steps to aid Gaza, according to his office, he also conveyed to the administration that “simply returning to the pre-war status quo was insufficient, that the deeper causes of the conflict, such as the Gaza blockade and evictions in Jerusalem, needed to be addressed,” read a statement sent to Jewish Currents from Sanders’s office. “He also made clear that he and his colleagues would continue to push for greater debate to make sure that US arms sales do not support human rights abuses.” Sanders’s office added that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had “committed to a continuing dialogue on these issues.”

Sanders’s move was only the latest attempt to bring congressional oversight to the arms sale. Last week, Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, working with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Mark Pocan, introduced resolutions into the legislature to block the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs to Israel. The resolutions marked a historic break with the Democratic Party’s consensus position on Israel: It has long been taboo for members of Congress to question the $3.8 billion in military aid that the US sends to Israel every year. 

jewishcurrents Days Before Approving Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, State Department Agreed to Contentious Bomb Sale to Israel