Washington, Dec 10 (IANS): While it’s Democrats versus Republicans in the congressional squabbling over security aid for Ukraine, it’s Democrats versus Democrats over aid to Israel. Both fronts remain open and unresolved.
Bernie Sanders, an Independent senator, who works with Democrats, was the only non-Republican to vote against a $111 billion security package for Ukraine and Israel on Wednesday. He was joined by Democrat Charles Schumer, who flipped his vote to “no” later so that he could bring up the bill again later. The legislation was defeated 49-51.
“I do not believe that we should give the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government an additional $10.1 billion dollars with no strings attached to continue their inhumane war against the Palestinian people,” Sanders said about his no-vote.
Although an Independent, Sanders has been an appendage of the Democratic party, working and voting with it mostly and he ran twice for the party’s nomination for president. He also leads the Democratic party left-leaning progressive wing that has called for a ceasefire in Gaza and more attaching conditions to the part of the security package meant for Israel.
The New York Times has reported that around 20 Democratic senators have expressed concerns about how Israel may use the US assistance at a meeting at the White House with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday, the day before the vote.
“We want the president to secure express assurances from the Netanyahu government regarding a plan to reduce the unacceptable level of civilian casualties, and we want the Netanyahu coalition to commit to full cooperation with our efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” Senator Chris Van Hollen, one of the leaders of this group effort, has said. He was referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The bottom line is we need those express assurances. How we achieve that is something that we are discussing right now.”
The Israeli prime minister is personally unpopular with Democrats for his right-wing policies -- such as the push for Israeli settlers in West Bank, which would go in totality to Palestine in the eventuality of its creation under the two-state formula that has widespread support in the world as the only solution to the West Asia problem that has seen multiple wars.
Netanyahu’s push for judicial reforms essentially diminished the authority of the Supreme Court -- played badly with the Democrats and the Biden administration, which had openly and publicly asked him not to rush it.
But since October 7, when Hamas carried out a terrorist attack on Israel, Biden has demonstrated an unwavering support for Israel, which has been criticized by fellow Democrats and Muslim Americans, who have resolved to not vote for his re-election bid.
The White House has re-calibrated its position in response and publicly pushed Israel towards a pause in fighting for humanitarian relief and minimise damage to civilians.
Talks are on to clear the security package sought by the Biden administration. There is a suggestion now, however, to split aid for Israel from the overall package. It’s come from Republicans who are generally more in agreement among themselves on Israel than on Ukraine, although there are plenty of them who are still all-in on funding Kyiv’s valiant fight against Russia.