Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, are preparing to introduce a resolution that would block Joe Biden‘s $735 million sale of bombs to Israel during the growing conflict with Hamas.
It is part of The Democratic Squad’s effort to put increasing pressure on Biden in his response in dealing the violence which has lasted 10 days and killed more than 200 people.
An early draft of the joint resolution of disapproval (JRD) was obtained by Jewish Currents and is co-sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, the two other squad members Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley, as well as Representatives Mark Pocan, Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Pramila Jayapal and Betty McCollum.
‘At a time when so many, including our President, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence. It is long past time to end the US policy of unconditional military arms sales, particularly to governments that have violated human rights,’ Ocasio-Cortez wrote in an email calling on her congressional colleagues to support her bill.
The squad-backed resolution would halt the transfer and sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) and Small Diameter Bombs from the U.S. to Israel. Both bombs are outfitted with special guidance systems intended to hit specific targets.
They announced their move on the day Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he wanted a ‘significant de-escalation’ and said he wanted an eventual ceasefire.
But Netanyahu defied Biden’s request and said he would continue attacking Hamas.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left), Rashida Tlaib (right) and other Democrats will introduce a resolution that would block Joe Biden’s $735 million sale of bombs to Israel in the midst of their growing conflict with Hamas
Biden held an intense, nearly eight-minute conversation with Tlaib on the tarmac in Dearborn, Michigan on Tuesday. She criticized Biden’s response to the conflict and said US-bought explosives shouldn’t be used on schools
On Tuesday, Tlaib confronted Biden when he landed in Dearborn, Michigan for a tour of a Ford plant.
‘Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated,’ Tlaib told him, according to her congressional office.
‘The U.S. cannot continue to give the right-wing Netanyahu government billions each year to commit crimes against Palestinians,’ she continued, an aide told NPR.
Israel used JDAMs and Small Diameter Bombs in its recent attack on Gaza.
It’s unlikely, however, that the resolution will pass the 51-member committee, which includes a number of pro-Israel legislators on both sides of the political aisle.
On Monday, a report from unnamed sources revealed the U.S. approved a week before the conflict broke out a $735 million weapons deal that included the precision-guided missiles.
Omar, the first Muslim woman elected to Congress and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the deal with Israel, who is a top recipient of U.S. military aid.
‘It would be appalling for the Biden administration to go through with $735 million in precision-guided weaponry to Netanyahu without any strings attached in the wake of escalating violence and attacks on civilians,’ the Minnesota representative in a statement.
‘If this goes through this will be seen as a green light for continued escalation and will undercut any attempts at brokering a ceasefire,’ she continued.
A report revealed the deal was approved a week before the conflict in the Middle East broke out, but the sale of the weapons produced by Boeing in the U.S. still needs congressional approval
Omar said Washington shouldn’t ‘stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being committed with our backing.’
The arms deal has to make it through congressional review before it is finalized.
A group of 28 Democratic lawmakers, led by Jewish Congressman Jon Ossoff of Georgia are calling for a ceasefire to ‘prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence’.
The conflict so far, which has seen a barge of bombs between the two nations, has killed over 200 people and sparked a humanitarian crisis.
After reports emerged of the sale and as the conflict with Israel and Hamas escalated, Biden held a phone call Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to a readout of the call, Biden justified Israel’s actions as self defense.
‘The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks. The President welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem,’ the readout states.
‘He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians. The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The President expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.’
Israel argues it has only sent bombs into Palestinian territories where it feels it has evidence Hamas is operating – including in a media building leveled by an Israeli airstrike.
A rocket fired from Gaza which landed on a road near Ad Halom just outside Ashdod on Wednesday. There were no injuries reported
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel at a military base in Tel Aviv on Wednesday
Relatives of Palestinian Hassan Salem, who was killed during an israeli raid on west Gaza City, mourn during his funeral on May 19, in Gaza City, Gaza
Earlier on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’d seen no evidence Hamas was operating in the Gaza-based building, even though Netanyahu said they showed Biden ‘smoking gun’ evidence.
According to the call, Biden stopped short of calling for an ‘immediate’ cease-fire.
The readout concluded ‘the two leaders agreed that they and their teams would remain in close touch.’
Biden’s statement came the same day Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell mocked efforts to apply equal pressure on Israel and Hamas.
‘To say that ‘both sides’ need to de-escalate downplays the responsibility the terrorists have for initiating this conflict in the first place, and suggests Israelis are not entitled to defend themselves against on-going rocket barrages. I completely reject this obscene moral equivalence,’ McConnell said.
IfNotNow, Center for Constitutional Rights, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Churches for Middle East Peace, and Defense for Children International–Palestine are all backing the progressive lawmakers’ attempt to block the bomb sale.