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Bernie Sanders Wants to Cut Military Aid to Israel, Give it to Gaza as Humanitarian Relief

10-29-2019
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JERUSALEM, Israel - 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says if elected, he would take the $3.8 billion in annual military financing the US gives to Israel and instead give it to Gaza in the form of humanitarian aid.

The Vermont senator made his comments while speaking at a J Street national conference. Sanders said he would use the military assistance to pressure Israel to take steps towards a two-state solution.

"My solution is to say to Israel: you get $3.8 billion every year, if you want military aid you're going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza, in fact, I think it is fair to say that some of that should go right now into humanitarian aid"

The US has agreed to give Israel a massive military aid package called the Memorandum of Understanding MOU. The latest aid package was approved by the Obama administration and agrees to give Israel $38 billion - $3.8 billion per year -  in military aid to Israel over 10 years. The MOU covers the years 2019-2028.

Several Democrats have proposed withholding some aid to push Israel into peace talks with the Palestinians. However, he is the first to suggest the US should give it to Gaza as humanitarian relief.

"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," Sanders said.

"My proposal in terms of Israeli-Palestinian efforts is not a radical proposal," he continued. "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."

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized Sander's proposal on Twitter. 

"Just when you thought Bernie Sanders couldn’t get any more radical, he outdid himself. He wants to take money we give to Israel to defend itself from terrorists, and give it to Gaza, which is run by terrorists?? Unreal. Why isn’t every other Dem pres candidate saying he’s wrong?

Other Democrats also attended the J Street conference, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

2020 front runners former Vice President Joe Biden and  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren addressed attendees via video.

Warren supported leveraging US aid to pressure Israel. last week she also said that cutting aid to Israel is "on the table."

However, Biden said withholding aid from the Jewish State is counterproductive.

"Israelis wake up every morning facing an existential threat," he said. "That's why we always have to be adamant that Israel must be able to defend itself."

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