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US gives go ahead for arms sale to Israel after getting international law ‘assurance’

March 26, 2024 at 1:59 pm

US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller speaks to reporters during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington DC on United States, March 25, 2024. [Mostafa Bassim – Anadolu Agency]

The US has determined that Israel is in compliance with President Joe Biden’s national security memorandum, which stipulates that recipients of US weapons must adhere to international law and refrain from blocking humanitarian assistance. This decision comes despite concerns raised by Congressional Democrats and leading international NGOs about Israel’s conduct in its ongoing military offensive in Gaza.

According to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, Israel provided written assurances by the required deadline, via a “credible high-level official who has the ability and authority to make decisions and commitments about the issues at the heart of the assurances.” The department now has until 8 May to submit a report to Congress on Israel’s alleged compliance.

Miller stated that the US has conducted ongoing assessments of Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law and has not found them to be in violation, either in terms of their conduct during the war or the provision of humanitarian assistance. However, he noted that finding a violation requires a “fact-intensive analysis of relevant factors related to international humanitarian law.”

Read: US officials: ‘White House does not intend to restrict arms sales to Israel’

The US position has been criticised by Senator Bernie Sanders. “Thirty-two thousand Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and almost 75,000 injured, two-thirds of whom are women and children,” said Sanders. “Some 60 per cent of the housing units have been damaged or destroyed, and almost all medical facilities have been made inoperable.” Today, he pointed out, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are facing starvation because Netanyahu won’t let in sufficient humanitarian aid, while thousands of trucks are waiting to get into Gaza. “To pretend that Israel is not violating international law or interfering with US humanitarian aid is absurd on its face. The State Department’s position makes a mockery of US law and assurances provided to Congress.”

The US decision to find Israel in compliance with the memorandum comes at a time when some of Israel’s major Western allies, such as Canada, have halted arms sales to the country due to concerns that the weapons may be used to violate human rights. This move by the US has raised questions about the administration’s commitment to holding its allies accountable for their actions in conflict zones.

As the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, with widespread destruction and a growing humanitarian crisis, the international community will be watching closely to see how the US balances its support for Israel with its stated commitment to upholding international law and human rights.

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