New US directive links military aid to human rights, including for Israel

In Washington on Thursday night Biden had harsh words for Israel stating, “The conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.”

By TOVAH LAZAROFF, HANNAH SARISOHNM, JPOST   FEBRUARY 10, 2024

US President Joe Biden issued a memorandum linking American military aid globally to adherence to international humanitarian law, including for Israel, as he called the IDF’s military operation in Gaza “over the top.”

Forms of military aid could be suspended If reports of violations are found credible, according to the National Security Memorandum issued on Thursday night.

Countries receiving military aid have 45 days, by February 8, to assure the US that they would comply with the memorandum or risk a pause in the delivery of that aid.

The US secretaries of defense and state have 90 days to submit a report on whether military aid recipients are complying with international law. After that, such a report will be filed yearly.

The memories were issued following a visit to Israel last week by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who underscored for Israeli officials the importance of treating seriously humanitarian issues relating to the IDF’s campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza.
Israel’s military operates in the Gaza Strip during a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, on November 27, 2023 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)Enlrage image

At a news briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre downplayed the significance of the memorandum, issued after meetings with Congress.

“I want to be clear: there are no new standards in this memo, we are not imposing new standards for military aid, that is not what is in this memo,” Jean-Pierre said. “Instead we are spelling out publicly the existing standards by international law including the law of armed conflict.”

New annual report to be given to Congress

What is new, Jean-Pierre said, is the annual report that will be given to Congress.

Jean-Pierre said this is in line with conversations the White House had with congressional members as they try to work together in a way that makes sense and moves the ball forward.

These are things that already exist that are now put in writing, Jean-Pierre said.

The White House briefed Israel on this memorandum and they reiterated their willingness to provide these types of assurances, Jean-Pierre says.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), however, said that the memorandum was “a very big deal” that “has enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance and to make sure that the US government has the tools to take action in cases of non-compliance.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, he said, “It focuses in the first instance on countries that are currently in armed conflict and using US weapons, that would include Israel, that would include Ukraine.”

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee said that the memorandum “is an unnecessary directive that imposes new requirements on Israel and our other most important allies.”

“As Israel continues its battle against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Iranian proxies, our focus should be on support for our ally.”

“Israel is a moral army fighting in an unprecedented, complex urban battlefield in compliance with international law. It’s confronting a terror group that deliberately and despicably uses innocent Palestinians as human shields, hides among and below civilians, and continues to hold 136 hostages, including 8 Americans,” AIPAC stated.

Biden’s memorandum stated that “in order to effectively implement certain obligations under United States law, the United States must maintain an appropriate understanding of foreign partners’ adherence to international law, including, as applicable, international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

“As a matter of international law, the United States looks to the law of state responsibility and United States partners’ compliance with international humanitarian law in assessing the lawfulness of United States military assistance to, and joint operations with, military partners.”

Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to Israel, its longtime ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support of Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.

Biden has been dogged by criticism at home by Arab American groups who say he should be calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza conflict. Several Biden administration officials met on Thursday in Dearborn, Michigan, with Arab American leaders who have been vocal in their criticism of Biden.

According to the New York Times US Deputy Security Adviser Jon Finer told the Arab-American leader in a closed-door meeting that the Biden administration had erred in not clarifying the extent to which Palestinian lives matter.

“We have left a very damaging impression based on what has been a wholly inadequate public accounting for how much the president, the administration and the country values the lives of Palestinians. And that began, frankly, pretty early in the conflict,” Finer said, according to the NYT.

In Washington on Thursday night Biden had harsh words for Israel stating, “The conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.”

Biden stressed his role in the provision of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, stating, “There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s got to stop, number one.”

Members of Congress raised concern over Israel’s human rights violations, The Post previously reported.

Led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), several progressive Democratic members issued a letter to Biden and the Government Accountability Office requesting an assessment of the State Department’s compliance with Leahy Laws and Conventional Arms Transfer policies regarding security assistance to the Israeli government

“We write today regarding your administration’s ongoing weapons transfers to the Israeli government despite considerable evidence that these transfers are flagrantly violating American and international law and being used in the commission of war crimes,” the letter to Biden said.

The letter cites a January 5 comment from White House National Security spokesman John Kirby in which he said he wasn’t aware of any assessments being done by the US government to analyze Israel’s compliance with international law.

Van Hollen was also part of a group of 19 Senators that had pushed Biden to ensure accountability to humanitarian law in its distribution of military aid.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “US military aid cannot be a blank check for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing government.”

February 12, 2024 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. No rules apply to Islamists!
    Colonel Richards Kemp is far more expert and reliable when it comes to human rights and the IDF than a JERK like Tlaib or the squad.

  2. @Laura The Republicans support a stand alone bill for aid to Israel. Biden is insisting it be part of a bill including controversial Ukraine and Border provisions. It is Biden who is holding Israel hostage to globalist interests. Israel can’t afford to continue to be dependent on the U.S. (or anybody else) for anything essential, wasn’t always, and doesn’t need to be.

    Moreover, MAGA is not isolationism as Peloni explained to you at length but to which you did not respond.

  3. THE REPUBLICANS ARE ABANDONING ISRAEL. Biden is bad enough, but now we no longer have a Republican party to counter the Democrats on Israel because members of Congress are either isolationist or are pandering to the isolationists in their base. Whereas once we had bipartisan support for Israel, now we have bipartisan abandonment of Israel in their most vulnerable time.

  4. This is what happens when you feminize most of your male population; your entire government capitulates to a few whiners…

  5. So this new broadside of new accusations hidden in an attempt to limit or stop US aid to Israel is led by Arab-American organizations fully supported by the squad. Wonderful!
    Isn’t there yet enough evidence of so-called Palestinian malfeasance to ensure that if aid to Israel is affected, that aid to the Arabs is affected at least as much? I doubt this is the intention of this effort. Indeed, the very first to suffer should be UNRWA.