Antony Blinken and Matthew Miller

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks with spokesperson Matthew Miller and others after he departed from Manama for Tel Aviv on January 10, 2024.

(Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden Admin Signals Arms Will Keep Flowing as Netanyahu Rejects Palestinian State

"I don't think we need to offer any kind of pressure" on the Israelis to accept a Palestinian state, said a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson signaled Thursday that American weaponry will continue to flow to the Israeli military even after the nation's prime minister ruled out calls for a sovereign Palestinian state, openly defying the Biden administration's push for a two-state solution to the crisis.

"Our support for Israel remains ironclad," the State Department's Matthew Miller said during a press briefing on Thursday in response to a question about how the U.S. intends to react to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position.

"I don't think we need to offer any kind of pressure" on the Israelis to accept a Palestinian state, Miller said. "The pressure is reality. The pressure is the reality that I just laid out, that without a tangible path to the establishment of a Palestinian state, there are no other partners in the region who are going to step forward and help with the reconstruction of Gaza."

Asked whether the U.S. will "continue to supply weapons and other support to an ally that is not listening to the warnings that you're giving," Miller acknowledged "differences with all of our allies" but said that "this is not a question of the United States pressuring them to do anything."

"This is about the United States laying out for them the opportunity that they have," Miller added. "There is a path for real security assurances—but again, we can't make those choices for anyone. They have to make them for themselves."

In an indication of its unflagging support for Israel's war assault on Gaza, the U.S. State Department has twice bypassed Congress to expedite weapons sales to the nation's government since the Hamas-led attack on October 7. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate rejected a resolution from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have required the department to produce a report on Israel's human rights practices in Gaza—which by virtually all accounts are atrocious.

The Biden administration, which could soon be facing a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice over its complicity in Israeli war crimes, opposed the Sanders resolution and has refused to formally assess whether Israel is adhering to international humanitarian law.

The Guardianreported Thursday that the State Department has "in effect been able to circumvent the U.S. law that is meant to prevent U.S. complicity in human rights violations by foreign military units—the 1990s-era Leahy law, named after the now retired Vermont senator Patrick Leahy—because, former officials say, extraordinary internal state department policies have been put in place that show extreme deference to the Israeli government."

"No such special arrangements exist for any other U.S. ally," the newspaper added.

The administration is currently working to exempt U.S. arms transfers to Israel from a "mandatory congressional notification process that applies to all other foreign arms sales," The Washington Postreported last week.

Overall, the Biden administration has sent more than 10,000 tons of weaponry to Israel over the past three and a half months, declining to place conditions on the arms even as the Israeli military openly flouts U.S. officials' entreaties to protect Gaza civilians, attacking homes, schools, bakeries, hospitals, and refugee camps.

"If Biden was truly as dissatisfied or impatient or whatever other terms are being fed to the media about his supposed handwringing over Bibi's war, he could have acted. But he didn't."

Israel's unrelenting bombing campaign and ground invasion have killed nearly 25,000 people in Gaza since October, and much of the territory is in the grip of famine as the Netanyahu government restricts the amount of aid allowed to enter the besieged territory.

Ajith Sunghay, head of the United Nations human rights office in the occupied Palestinian territory, expressed horror Friday at conditions on the ground in Gaza, calling the situation "a major, human-made, humanitarian disaster."

"People continue to arrive in Rafah from various places in their thousands, in desperate situations, setting up makeshift shelters with any material they can get their hands on," said Sunghay. "I've seen men and children digging for bricks to be able to hold in place tents made with plastic bags."

"It is a pressure cooker environment here, in the midst of utter chaos, given the terrible humanitarian situation, shortages, and pervasive fear and anger," he added. "The communications blackout has continued for a sixth consecutive day, adding to the confusion and fear, and preventing Gazans from accessing services and information on areas to evacuate."

In a column on Thursday, The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill noted that "over the course of the past 100 days of Israel's bloody rampage in Gaza, Biden has had an infinite series of events that each could have justified ceasing U.S. political and military support for Israel's explicitly offensive war."

"There is no nation on Earth that wields more influence over Israel and no politician who holds more sway than Biden. The U.S. is the arms dealer and defender of this entire enterprise," Scahill wrote. "If Biden was truly as dissatisfied or impatient or whatever other terms are being fed to the media about his supposed handwringing over Bibi's war, he could have acted. But he didn't."

"Instead, the White House made sure no cease-fire took hold, offered a public defense of Israel's conduct in the face of clear evidence of its genocidal intent submitted before the world court, circumvented Congress to keep the arms flowing, and then publicly opposed a resolution that sought to uphold U.S. law aimed at ensuring U.S. weapons and other aid are not used to commit human rights abuses. Those are the relevant facts," he continued. "There is no need for media outlets to serve as conveyor belts for the administration's disingenuous posturing. Biden's actions are the only evidence that matters. And that evidence is damning."

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