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January 17, 2024

Senate Rejects Accountability for Israel, but the Sanders Resolution is Only the Beginning

Last night, 12 Senators supported the State Department to investigate potential violations of human rights committed by Israel throughout the course of the ongoing war. But 72 voted against it.

This outcome is very disappointing, even if it is not unexpected given the intense pressure on lawmakers from the White House and many Israel-aligned groups. But it offers a glimmer of hope — no vote demanding accountability for the U.S. provision of weapons to Israel like this has ever been held before.

It was not the outcome for which we hoped, but it can be an important step towards ending the suffering of Palestinians, preventing a wider regional war, and beginning a shift in U.S. foreign policy that is so badly needed.

At NIAC, we believe human rights are a universal principle – not a tool to selectively deploy against enemies and shield from friends. Whether there are human rights violations here at home, or committed against loved ones in Iran, or conducted with the support of our U.S. taxpayer money – we will always stand up for the rights of all people.

Unfortunately, many in the U.S. Senate signaled last night that human rights are a privilege for only certain people, not a right that must be enjoyed universally by all. This is precisely what is wrong with U.S. foreign policy and what we all must continue to work to change.

The first step is accountability. The Senators who voted for the Sanders resolution need our thanks and support, as they will certainly come under fire from the power centers in Washington who seek to enforce impunity for Israel. And those who chose to avoid learning whether U.S. weapons are being used to commit human rights violations must feel pressure so that this historic vote is not a defeat but a turning point.

NIAC is mobilizing members to message to your Senators’ offices to thank them for their support of the Sanders’ resolution or admonish them for failing to do so, we’ve also created a call page.

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Laphonza Butler (D-CA); Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM); Ed Markey (D-MA); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Rand Paul (R-KY); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), as well, indicated he would have voted with the Sanders resolution had he been able to make the vote.

A big thank you  to our dedicated volunteers for being active participants in the quest for peace, human rights, and dignity for all.

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