February 24, 2024

The Senate rejected a proposal by Bernie Sanders to enforce strict conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel, with Senator Ben Cardin calling it a “gift” to Iran and Hamas. Vermont Senator Jeff Merkley recently spoke about this topic. He supports the resolution and has concerns about the lack of aid reaching Gaza. At the Senate, a substantial discussion took place among the Democratic caucus about the resolution. Merkley suggests that some senators might have abstained from voting for the resolution due to the ambiguities and the administration’s difficult position.

Merkley highlights the necessity for the U.S. government to understand Israel’s military strategy and how it is conducted. He has supported Israel’s right to fight against Hamas but notes the importance of examining and questioning the conduct of the campaign. He believes that a report from the State Department in the next thirty days would provide a better understanding of the situation.

There seems to be a growing recognition within the Senate that aid to all nations should be conditioned based on international law compliance, as indicated by Elizabeth Warren’s statements. This could explain why more Democratic senators were open to the Van Hollen amendment, which reiterates international law for all aid to all countries, compared to the Sanders resolution, which specifically calls for a report on Israel’s compliance with international law in Gaza.