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Sen. Bernie Sanders Tries To Block $735 Million Arms Sale To Israel

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tried and failed to block a $735 million arms sale to Israel this week. His effort comes amidst recent episodes violence between Israel and Hamas, which entered into a ceasefire on Thursday evening.

However, Sanders does not have enough votes in the Senate for his plan to succeed. In order for the Senate to prevent arms sale, Sanders would need 51 votes (including Vice President Kamala Harris) to go against the administration.

But, even Democrats are skeptical of Sanders’ resolution, including Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), who said: “I wouldn’t be supporting it.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) also voiced his concerns about Sanders’ recent move. “I’m not supportive of his resolution,” Cardin said. “I have confidence that the Biden administration is handling it properly.”

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Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is undecided. “We’re going to have to think about ways to make sure that Israel stays on a path to a Palestinian state,” said Murphy. “I think that future is much more in jeopardy after the crisis of the last week.”

Additionally, libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who normally supports blocking arms sales, is against the resolution. “I have been opposed in the past to arms sales to people who I think are acting in a way that’s sort of an undemocratic way, a tyrannical way,” he said. “I think what I see Israel doing is acting in self-defense.”

Nonetheless, Sanders has garnered some support by a group in the House led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

But it might be too late for Sanders’ efforts. “I think procedurally he may be out of time. But I’m not sure, we’ll see what the parliamentarian has to say,” said Menendez.

Sanders remains hopeful, however, telling reports in the Capitol: “Our goal must be to bring, to do everything possible, under very, very difficult circumstances to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together. That is the best way we fight terrorism, not just give support to Israel. We need an even-handed approach.”

Elizabeth Letsou

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