AOC leads effort to block arms sale to Israel

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the U.S. has 'directly contributed' to the death and displacement of 'millions'

New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a resolution Wednesday to block a White House-approved $735 million arms sale to Israel.

Congress’ only Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., joined Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts. 

The resolution seeks to block the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMS), a tail kit that converts "dumb" bombs into precision-guided missiles, which are believed to have been used in the recent conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

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"For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights," Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement, adding that the U.S. has "directly contributed" to the death and displacement of "millions." 

President Biden has urged both sides to stand down following the now 10-day long violent conflict.

Palestinian health officials have reported that more than 200 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children. Israel has reported 12 deaths, including a 5-year old boy.

Thousands more have been injured. 

Just days prior to the outbreak of violence, the Biden administration approved the arms sale that Democrats are pushing to have shelved. 

"Approving this sale now, while failing to even try to use it as leverage for a ceasefire, sends a clear message to the world – the U.S. is not interested in peace, and does not care about the human rights and lives of Palestinians," Tlaib in a statement Wednesday. "You cannot claim to support human rights and peace on Earth and continue to back the extremist Netanyahu regime, it’s that simple."

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The move to block the sale to Israel shows a divide in the Democratic Party, with some hesitant to break ties with the long-time ally and sole Jewish nation in the world.

But the party’s left-leaning Democrats have pressured the Biden administration to lean more heavily on Netanyahu.

"The president has been doing this long enough...to know sometimes diplomacy has to happen behind the scenes," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters Tuesday.

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Biden spoke with Netanyahu for the fourth time in a week Wednesday, telling the prime minister he "expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.