As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he is “determined” to continue an assault of the besieged Gaza Strip that has left over 200 Palestinians dead, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blocked what he called a “destructive” Republican resolution affirming support for Israel—then offered an alternative.
“Perhaps some people think Palestinian lives don’t matter. I would hope not.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Echoing his recent opinion piece for the New York Times, the resolution (pdf) from Sanders (I-Vt.) says that “every Palestinian life matters” and “every Israeli life matters.”
The resolution goes on to say that the Senate “urges an immediate cease-fire” to prevent additional deaths and “further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories.”
Sanders’ resolution adds that the Senate supports diplomatic efforts “to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” uphold international law, and protect human rights.
Unlike the GOP resolution, Sanders said on the Senate floor, “mine is short and to the point.” He read the full resolution and named his 10 Democratic co-sponsors.
Sanders noted that leaders around the world have called for a cease-fire, from the United Nations secretary-general to the pope. He also pointed out that Gaza has endured a devastating blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2007 and the current Israeli assault “has only made a bad situation much, much worse.”
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, now in its second week, has featured attacks on medical facilities and residential buildings—including a high-rise that also housed multiple media organizations, which led press freedom groups to accuse the Israeli government of trying to block on-the-ground coverage.
Amnesty International has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the destruction of Palestinian homes as war crimes or crimes against humanity. The U.N. humanitarian chief says the bombings have displaced over 58,000 people and affected water, sanitation, and hygiene services for hundreds of thousands.
The proposal from Sanders stands in stark contrast to the GOP resolution (pdf) led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), which says that the “United States supports Israel, our greatest ally in the region, and its right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.”
Though Israel’s air defenses have blocked the majority of rockets that Palestinian militant groups have fired from Gaza since last week, some Israelis have been killed. Reuters reports that “Israeli authorities put the death toll at 12 in Israel.”
The Republican resolution notes the U.S. government designated the Palestinian group Hamas a terrorist organization over two decades ago, adding that “since Israel’s founding in 1948, Congress has repeatedly expressed our nation’s unwavering commitment to the security of Israel.”
Sanders highlighted that Scott’s resolution only “mourns” the loss of Israeli lives, ignoring the scores of recent Palestinians deaths. The loss of 12 Israeli lives, said Sanders, “is in fact a tragedy—but what about the loss of 227 Palestinian lives, including 64 children and 38 women?”
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