Washington (QNN)- Senator Bernie Sanders has secured a commitment from Democratic leadership that the US will send additional humanitarian funds to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, in exchange for a “yes” vote on Israel’s Iron Dome bill.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer obtained by the Jewish Currents, Sanders seemed critical of the Iron Dome funding, which would fulfill an Israeli request for targeted aid to the program on top of the $3.8 billion in US military aid that goes to Israel every year.
The bill is still expected to pass overwhelmingly, but it is not clear when it will be brought before the floor for a vote.
Sanders noted that the anti-rocket system was already “fully funded” by the US, and that the US gives Israel “more [aid] than any other country in the world.” But Sanders is also planning to vote “yes” on Iron Dome, leveraging his vote in exchange for leadership’s backing of the humanitarian relief.
“A goal here is to make clear that it’s no longer acceptable to keep sending billions in military aid to Israel without any debate, and without any acknowledgement of the violence endured by Palestinians living under occupation and blockade,” said Matt Duss, Sanders’s foreign policy advisor.
In his letter to Schumer, Sanders portrayed his request for $1 billion in assistance for Gaza as a necessary counterweight to the US’s overwhelming military support for ‘Israel’.
“If the goal of this supplemental funding is to help Israel replenish Iron Dome after the war that took place in May, it would be irresponsible if we do not at the same time address the enormous destruction and suffering that that war caused the Palestinians in Gaza,” he wrote.
He added, “Just as we stand with the Israeli people’s right to live in peace and security, we must do so for the Palestinian people as well.”
Last month, the House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill to provide $1 billion to ‘Israel’ to replenish its Iron Dome missile-defense system, just two days after the funding was removed from a final House-passed bill to prevent a government shutdown.
The measure passed 420 members voting in favour of the bill, and nine against (Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, André Carson, Marie Newman, Raúl Grijalva, Chuy Garcia, and Thomas Massie.)
The bill is now headed to the Senate, which will need to approve it as well.
Some of the most liberal House Democrats had objected to the provision and said they would vote against the broad spending bill if it was included.
The extra $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome was supposed to be in addition to the nearly $4 billion the US government already sends to the Israeli occupation forces every year.
Since World War II, the United States has given Israel $146 billion in aid, mostly for weapons.
The United States and Israel have an agreement under which the US government will allocate $38 billion from fiscal 2019 through 2028, including $5 billion for missile defense.