Bernie Sanders: U.S. Should Have a Say in How Israel Uses Military Aid

By: Ben Samuels; Haaretz

Sen. Bernie Sanders will tell the J Street 2021 National Conference on Monday that the United States should be able to determine how Israel uses the aid it gives to the state, and should restrict aid in response to moves that would undermine the peace process.

“I strongly believe that we must also be willing to bring real pressure to bear, including restricting U.S. aid, in response to moves by either side that undermine the chances for peace,” Sanders will tell the pro-Israel, left-wing group’s annual confab, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Haaretz.

“The truth is that the United States gives an enormous amount of military aid to Israel. It also provides some humanitarian and economic aid to the Palestinians,” the Vermont senator will say. “It is totally appropriate for the United States to say what that aid may and may not be used for.”

The remarks continue, “In terms of aid to Israel, in my view, the American people do not want to see that money being used to support policies that violate human rights and that treat the Palestinian people as second class human beings.”

He is to add, “when we talk about restricting aid, it’s important to note that this isn’t about singling out any one country. It’s about acting in an even-handed way in the region, and making sure that American aid works to advance American values, not undermine them.”

Sanders’ remarks come against the backdrop of a bill introduced by House Democratic lawmakers last week specifying various actions Israel may not finance with U.S. taxpayer funding, while also calling for additional oversight of how aid is distributed.

The “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” – introduced by Representative Betty McCollum and co-sponsored by Representatives Andre Carson, Danny Davis,
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Pramila Jayapal, Marie Newman, Ilhan Omar, Bobby Rush, Raul Grijalva, Mark Pocan, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jesús “Chuy” García – specifies the detention of Palestinian minors, destruction of Palestinian property, or support for unilateral annexation.

The bill requires the secretary of state and General Accounting Office to annually report and certify Israeli compliance with such measures, though it does not call on conditioning U.S. assistance to Israel based on potential violations.

According to Gallup’s annual survey on American views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 34 percent of Americans want to see the U.S. government push Israel further on the matter. Most notably, for the first time a majority of Democrats – 53 percent – now support this approach. Furthermore, 67 percent of Democrats polled support Palestinian statehood.