Senator Bernie Sanders has bolstered the attempts to ban multi-million dollar arms sales to Israel, joining a section of the Democrats who try to stop the Biden administration's move. Sanders, a former presidential candidate who lost out to both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, introduced a resolution to block the proposed $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel.
The arms sale, which was announced last week, attracted wide criticism as it came in the wake of the violence in the Gaza Strip.
"At a moment when US-made bombs are devastating Gaza, and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a Congressional debate," the senator said in a statement.
Egypt Brokers Peace
The news comes even as an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas began on Friday, ending the conflict that killed hundreds of people.
Though a truce was arrived at, during the countdown to the 2 a.m. (2300 GMT Thursday) cease-fire, Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel, while IDF carried out at least one air strike.
Hamas has also warned that it has its "hands on the trigger" and said Israel should end the violence in Jerusalem.
Both the sides said they will retaliate for any truce violations are committed by the other side. Egypt said it will send delegations to monitor the ceasefire.
While Gaza's health officials said 232 Palestinians have died in the conflict, Israel said it had killed at least 160 combatants. Gaza administration said as many as 1,900 people have been wounded in aerial bombardments.
Sanders Questions Weapons Sale
Meanwhile, Sanders said the US must work for the future of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"I believe that the US must help lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians... We need to take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping do that, or whether it is simply fueling conflict," Sanders, who has aligned with the extreme left in the Democratic party, said.
It's not clear if his move will result in the blockage of the deal. The resolution can pass the Senate with a simple majority but Biden can veto the move. Then a a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House is required to stop the arms deal from happening.
Earlier, House Democrats led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York had mooted a similar motion.
It was reported on May 18 that President Biden approved a $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel. Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Washington Post said that Congress was officially notified of the proposed sale on May 5.
This was nearly a week before the conflict escalated between the Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The proposed sale includes the joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) and GBU-39 small diameter bombs.
The Biden administration notified Congress of the sale on May 5, nearly a week before the conflict escalated between the Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza on May 10.
US media reports had then said that the $735 million weapons sale to Israel is unlikely to be stopped by Congress, as the 15-day window to take action has basically closed.