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US senators urge Biden to stop arming Israel – NYT

The president is violating the aid law because the Netanyahu government is blocking humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a letter from a group of Democrats argues

A group of Democrats in the US Senate has called on President Joe Biden to stop providing weapons to Israel until it lifts restrictions on Washington’s humanitarian assistance to Gaza, according to a New York Times report.

The Senate approved an emergency national security aid bill last month that would send an additional $14.1 billion in military aid to Israel, including $10 billion for offensive weapons for the country’s war against Hamas.

The NYT cited a letter on Monday by Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, and seven Democrats who argued that by continuing to arm Israel, Biden was violating the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, which stipulates that “no assistance” should be provided to any country that restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of US humanitarian assistance.

“We urge you to make it clear to the Netanyahu government that failure to immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza will lead to serious consequences, as specified under existing US law,” the group reportedly wrote.

Sanders separately told the NYT: “I hope the president understands that a growing number of members of Congress, and the American people in general, are sick and tired of seeing the destruction of the people of Gaza and the creation of mass starvation.” 

Biden announced last week in his State of the Union speech that US forces will build a temporary dock on the Gaza shoreline to allow delivery of humanitarian aid on a large scale. The decision to open a sea route for aid into Gaza had come amid Israeli obstruction of road deliveries and growing warnings of a widespread famine among 2.3 million Palestinians.


READ MORE: Majority of US voters disapprove of Biden’s Gaza policy – WSJ poll

Israel declared war on Hamas after the militant group unexpectedly attacked southern Israeli cities on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostages. More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the fighting began last year, according to local authorities.

The UN has warned of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with dire shortages of food and medicine. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected international calls for a ceasefire and vowed to continue the war until Israel wins a “total victory” over Hamas.

 

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