NO MORE BOMBS FOR NETANYAHU, SAYS BERNIE SANDERS, US SENATOR 

21 JUNE 2024 – https://www.other-news.info/

By Thalif Deen* – InDepthNews

NEW YORK, June 2024 (IDN) — US Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont), one of the most vociferous opponents of Israel’s unrestrained military attacks on civilians in Gaza, urged the Biden Administration to stop sending any additional weapons and ammunitions to the Netanyahu government.

In a statement released June 18, Sanders responded to a video put out by Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu attacking the United States for not sending him bombs fast enough.

“No doubt, we will hear similar complaints when he addresses Congress on July 24,” predicted Sanders.

Virtually everyone recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism and respond to the horrific October 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,200 innocent Israelis and took hundreds of hostages, said the US Senator.

“But the Israeli government did not and does not have the right to go to war against the entire Palestinian people. Yet that is exactly what has happened.”

“Let’s be clear: the right wing, extremist Netanyahu government has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians and injured nearly 85,000, sixty percent of whom are women, children, or elderly. After displacing nearly 1.8 million people from their homes, it has damaged or destroyed more than 60 percent of the housing stock in Gaza.”

Sanders also pointed out that Israel has devastated the civilian infrastructure, including water and sewage systems.

Today, despite extraordinarily high temperatures, there is virtually no electricity in Gaza. The health care system has been decimated, with 19 hospitals knocked out of service and more than 400 healthcare workers killed.

The education system has also been devastated—88 percent of all school buildings have sustained damage, and all twelve of Gaza’s universities have been bombed, leaving 625,000 students with no access to education, he added.

According to humanitarian organizations, hundreds of thousands of people face possible famine. Already, more than 8,000 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with acute malnutrition, the result of the Netanyahu government’s restrictions on humanitarian aid.

Absurd to invite Netanyahu to address Congress

“Given all of this, it is easy to understand why Netanyahu is credibly accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. He is beholden to extreme racists in Israel and has devoted his career to undermining the prospects for a two-state solution and lasting peace”.

It is absurd that Netanyahu has been invited to address Congress, Sanders argued.

“We should not be honoring people who use the starvation of children as a weapon of war. Instead, the United States should be withholding all offensive military aid to Israel and using our leverage to demand an end to this war, the unfettered flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza, a stop to the killing of Palestinians in the West Bank, and initial steps towards a two-state solution”.

But the appeal by Sanders for a halt in US arms supplies is a hard sell in a country where the Israeli lobby is one of most powerful, including among Senators and US Congressmen.

Meanwhile, according to a Fact Sheet put out by the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs in October 2023, steadfast support for Israel’s security has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for every U.S. Administration since the presidency of Harry S. Truman.

Over $130 billion in bilateral assistance to Israel since 1948

Since its founding in 1948, the United States has provided Israel with over $130 billion in bilateral assistance focused on addressing new and complex security threats, bridging Israel’s capability gaps through security assistance and cooperation, increasing interoperability through joint exercises, and helping Israel maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

“This assistance has helped transform the Israel Defense Forces into one of the world’s most capable, effective militaries and turned the Israeli military industry and technology sector into one of the largest exporters of military capabilities worldwide”.

Since 1983, the United States and Israel have met regularly via the Joint Political-Military Group (JPMG) to promote shared policies, address common threats and concerns, and identify new areas for security cooperation.

The 48th JPMG, held in October 2022, reaffirmed “the ironclad strategic partnership between the United States and Israel, underscoring a mutual commitment to advance collaboration in support of regional security and reinforce the historic achievements of recent normalization under the Abraham Accords.”

According to the Fact Sheet, Israel is the leading global recipient of Title 22 U.S. security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.

This has been formalized by a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Consistent with the MOU, the United States annually provides $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense.

Since FY 2009, the United States has provided Israel with $3.4 billion in funding for missile defense, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support starting in FY 2011. Through FMF, the United States provides Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Lightning.

Israel is also eligible for Cash Flow Financing and is authorized to use its annual FMF allocation to procure defense articles, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, Direct Commercial Contract agreements—which are FMF-funded Direct Commercial Sales procurements – and through Off Shore Procurement (OSP).

Via OSP the current MOU allows Israel to spend a portion of its FMF on Israeli-origin rather than U.S.-origin defense articles. This was 25 percent in FY 2019 but is set to phase-out and decrease to zero in FY 2028.

As of October 2023, the United States has 599 active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases, valued at $23.8 billion, with Israel.  FMS cases notified to Congress and priority initiatives include: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft; CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters; KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers; and precision-guided munitions.

From FY 2018 through FY 2022, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $12.2 billion in defense articles to Israel via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process.

The top categories of DCS to Israel were Gas Turbine Engines and Associated Equipment; Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines; and Aircraft, according to the Fact Sheet.

Over $130 billion in bilateral assistance to Israel

Since 1992, the United States has provided Israel with $6.6 billion worth of equipment under the Excess Defense Articles program, including weapons, spare parts, weapons, and simulators.  U.S. European Command also maintains in Israel the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile, which can be used to boost Israeli defenses in the case of a significant military emergency.

In addition to security assistance and arms sales, the United States participates in a variety of exchanges with Israel, including military exercises like Juniper Oak and Juniper Falcon, as well as joint research, and weapons development.

The United States and Israel have signed multiple bilateral defense cooperation agreements, to include: a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1952); a General Security of Information Agreement (1982); a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (1991); and a Status of Forces Agreement (1994).

Since 2011, the United States has also invested more than $8 million in Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in the West Bank to improve regional and human security through the survey and clearance of undisputed minefields.

Following years of negotiations with the Palestinians and Israelis, humanitarian mine action activities began in April 2014—this represents the first humanitarian clearance of landmine contamination in nearly five decades.

Israel has been designated as a U.S. Major Non-NATO Ally under U.S. law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States.

“Consistent with statutory requirements, it is the policy of the United States to help Israel preserve its QME, or its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties”.

This requires a quadrennial report to Congress, for arms transfers that are required to be Congressionally notified, and a determination that individual arms transfers to the region will not adversely affect Israel’s QME. [IDN-InDepthNews]

……………………..

*Thalif Deen – Former UN Bureau Chief and Regional Director IPS North America, has been covering the U.N. since the late 1970s. A former deputy news editor of the Sri Lanka Daily News, he was a senior editorial writer on the Hong Kong daily, The Standard. 

–Bernie Sanders /USA, September 1941/, was son of Elias Sanders, a Polish-Jewish immigrant who immigrated to the United States in 1921 and became a paint salesman, although his family was killed in the Holocaust.