Democratic hopeful Sanders urges giving chunk of US military aid to Gaza instead
October 29, 2019
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday that part of the $3.8 billion in annual US military assistance to Israel should instead go toward humanitarian relief in Gaza.
The Vermont senator, speaking at the annual J Street national conference, vowed to use American military aid as leverage to get Israel to roll back its settlement enterprise and enter peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an idea that has gained ground among some Democrats.
“I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion,” he told the confab, referring to the US-Israel memorandum of understanding brokered under the Obama administration. “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”
“My solution is, to Israel, if you want military aid you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza”
The 2020 candidate said he would condition US aid to Israel on Jerusalem taking tangible steps to reach a two-state solution and improve the conditions of Palestinians living in the battered coastal enclave.
“My solution is, to Israel, if you want military aid you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza,” he said. “I would say that some of the $3.8 billion should go right now to humanitarian aid in Gaza.”
“My proposal in terms of Israeli-Palestinian efforts is not a radical proposal,” he went on. “All it says is that we need an even-hand proposal for both people. What is going on in Gaza right now, for example, is absolutely inhumane. It is unacceptable. It is unsustainable.”
While some Democrats have proposed withholding some of the aid to push Israel into peace talks or away from West Bank annexation plans, Sanders appeared to be the first 2020 candidate to propose giving the money to Gaza instead.
He made the comments while being interviewed on stage by former Obama officials Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor, who now host the popular Pod Save the World podcast.