Eight Senators Urge President Biden to End Offensive Military Aid to Israel if Israel Keeps Blocking US Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

We are five months into Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that President Joe Biden’s administration has continuously supported with the provision of weapons and intelligence essential to the war effort despite Congress not appropriating money for such. All the while, Biden and his executive branch cohorts have ridiculously claimed they support restraint in Israel’s pursuit of the war though that restraint never materializes. They have also extolled their virtue for providing aid to Gazans who have been thrust into horror by the Biden administration’s actions even as Israel blocks aid from reaching Gazans.

It’s all cheap talk from the Biden administration.

There are increasing signs of organized resistance from Congress members of Biden’s own party to the Biden administration’s apparent willingness, consistent with Biden’s longstanding devotion to the Israel government, to keep shoveling military aid to the Israel government no matter what. Front and center of the materializing resistance is a Monday letter from eight Democratic Caucus members of the United States Senate to Biden.

The eight senators who signed the letter are Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

In the letter, the senators urge Biden “to make it clear” to the Israel government “that failure to immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza will lead to serious consequences, as specified under existing U.S. law.” The senators then proceed to state that they believe that US offensive military aid to Israel should be terminated if Israel refuses to stop blocking US humanitarian aid to Gaza. The letter states:

The United States Should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with U.S. humanitarian assistance. We note that the language of the statutes does not preclude U.S. assistance for missile defense, such as Iron Dome, or other defensive systems provided to Israel pursuant to the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Providing details, the senators declare that their called for termination of offensive military aid is required by Section 6201 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that they quote as stating that “No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act to any country when it is made known to the President that the government of such country prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance.”

The letter will seem underwhelming to many advocates of peace and a noninterventionist foreign policy given that what the letter does is far from urging Biden to terminate all military aid to Israel altogether. Still, it is a rebuke of the Biden administration’s blanket support for Israel’s war effort and of the longstanding congressional leadership commitment to “stand with Israel” no matter what that was recently reinforced by the fact that all nine candidates for House of Representatives speaker last year supported standing with Israel in its new war. The letter also may be an important step toward the US extracting itself from its role as loyal servant facilitating Israel’s warmaking.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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