IDF F-35 warplanes

U.S.-made Israeli Air Force F-35 fighters sit on a runway.

(Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense)

While Mulling Israel Claims, Biden Urged to 'Stop Weapons Sales Now'

"After over half a million uncommitted votes and counting, it's time Biden administration officials finally listen," said one campaigner. "We need concrete action to stop weapons aid immediately."

As the Biden administration wrestles with whether to certify that Israel is complying with a presidential directive requiring human rights assurances from governments receiving American weapons, Palestine defenders on Wednesday renewed calls for a suspension of U.S. arms sales to Israel's genocidal government and military.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has until March 25 to certify to Congress that Israel is adhering to President Joe Biden's February 2023 memo stating that "no arms transfer will be authorized where the United States assesses that it is more likely than not that the arms to be transferred will be used by the recipient to commit... genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949... or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law."

If Israel fails to provide written assurance that it is using U.S.-supplied weapons in accordance with international law, arms sales would automatically be suspended. According toHuffPost, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew on Tuesday privately claimed to the State Department that Israel is in compliance with domestic and international law.

However, the Israeli daily Haartezreported Wednesday that officials from three State Department bureaus—Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Population, Refugees, and Migration; and the Office of Global Criminal Justice—as well as the United States Agency for International Development are deeply skepitcal of Lew's claim.

"America should follow in Canada's steps and stop weapons sales now."

The Uncommitted National Movement—a coalition of pro-Palestine, peace, and progressive groups urging people to vote "uncommitted" in U.S. Democratic primaries in a bid to pressure Biden to push Israel for a Gaza cease-fire—led demands for a suspension of arms transfers to Israel.

"After over half a million uncommitted votes and counting, it's time Biden administration officials finally listen," Uncommitted National Movement co-chair Layla Elabedsaid in a statement Wednesday. "We need concrete action to stop weapons aid immediately. America should follow in Canada's steps and stop weapons sales now."

The Canadian Parliament on Monday approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut off arms exports to Israel. Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly subsequently said that the government would cease future weapons sales to the country.

Other countries including Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium have suspended or restricted weapons sales to Israel, whose military forces have killed or wounded more than 113,000 Palestinians since the October 7 attacks while forcibly displacing around 90% of Gaza's 2.3 million people and fueling famine and disease by besieging the embattled strip. Most of those killed have been women and children.

On January 26, the International Criminal Court ordered Israel to prevent genocidal acts. Both the ICJ and a U.S. federal judge have found that Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza. Palestinians, human rights groups, and legal experts have accused Israel of ignoring the World Court's directive.

Common Dreamsreported Tuesday that Human Rights Watch and Oxfam called Israeli assurances that U.S.-supplied weapons are not being used in violation of international law "not credible." The groups also dismissed false Israeli claims that the country is not blocking humanitarian aid from reaching starving Gazans.

The U.S. gives Israel approximately $4 billion in annual military aid. Since October 7, the Biden administration has requested an additional $14.3 billion in armed assistance for Israel, while repeatedly circumventing Congress to fast-track emergency weapons transfers.

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