Biden Moves to Skirt Oversight for US Aid to Israel

by | Feb 27, 2024

Biden Moves to Skirt Oversight for US Aid to Israel

by | Feb 27, 2024

biden signing an executive order related to the affordable care act and medicaid 420ffa

The Joe Biden administration is requiring all countries that receive US military aid, including Israel, to agree to not commit war crimes using American gear. The White House crafted the pledge to prevent Congress from placing restrictions on a massive military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as some lawmakers press for greater accountability for US arms transfers. According to rights groups, Israeli forces have used American-made weapons to commit a number of suspected war crimes in Gaza. 

Earlier this month, President Biden issued a national security memorandum that said American military aid would be linked to compliance with international law. While the executive order was largely redundant as the Leahy Laws prohibit US arms transfers to countries that commit war crimes, several American presidents have ignored Israel’s routine violations of international law while lavishing Tel Aviv with billions in military aid. 

The document was intended to relieve mounting political pressure on Biden over his unfettered support for Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians over months of bombing. According to Sen. Chris Van Hollen, the memo was issued after he and other Democrats proposed an amendment requiring greater oversight for US aid to Israel as part of a $95 billion military spending bill currently stalled in Congress. 

“Myself and the co-sponsors of the amendment made it clear to [Senate] Majority Leader Schumer that we are determined to have a vote if we don’t succeed in implementing it through executive action,” the senator said, referring to the oversight measures. “That and the fact that it made sense on the merit of it, persuaded the administration that they should work with us on this.”

Israeli and US officials told Axios that the White House asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a letter stating he would avoid committing war crimes using American weapons. The effort is likely to have little impact, however, as the White House has refused to leverage its ties with Israel to pressure compliance with basic humanitarian law. 

Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have regularly flaunted Biden’s requests throughout the war, including appeals for Tel Aviv to ease its grip on aid bound for Gaza. On Monday, a senior US official acknowledged that aid shipments had dropped to just 85 trucks per day, while assistance in northern Gaza has all but ground to a halt. Despite Biden’s calls for the creation of a Palestinian state as part of any long-term solution to the conflict, moreover, the prime minister has repeatedly rejected the idea outright.

Late last year, Amnesty International documented two Israeli bombings using US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) guidance kits which killed at least 43 Palestinian non-combatants, including 19 children and 14 women. The humanitarian org identified missile fragments pulled from the ruins of destroyed houses, and described the attacks as unlawful air strikes on homes full of civilians.” 

”The US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families,” Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard said of the October air raids, adding that the strikes were ”further proof that the Israeli military is responsible for unlawfully killing and injuring civilians” using American hardware.

About Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of and news editor of the Libertarian Institute. Will Porter is the assistant news editor of the Libertarian Institute and a staff writer and editor at RT. Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter host Conflicts of Interest along with Connor Freeman.

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