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Could a National Security Deadline Halt US Bomb Shipments to Israel?

Could a national security deadline stop the US from sending bombs (Credits: The Hill)

The Biden administration has a May 8 deadline to report to Congress on whether countries receiving US weapons and munitions are using them in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

This deadline is critical as it applies to Israel and its ongoing war in Gaza. The administration has authorized over 100 arms sales to Israel during this period, including tank and artillery ammunition, bombs, rockets, and small arms.

The February national security memorandum requires Secretary of State Antony Blinken to obtain written assurances from Israel that it will use US-transferred weapons following international humanitarian and human rights laws.

US President Biden (Credits: WFXR)

Suppose Blinken determines that Israeli assurances are not credible or reliable. In that case, he must report to the president and indicate next steps to “remediate the situation,” which could include suspending further transfer of defense articles.

The memorandum also specifies that certain defense articles, such as air defense systems and non-lethal items, are exempt from its requirements. Additionally, the secretary of State has waiver authority in “rare and extraordinary circumstances” justified by US national security, but this does not apply to congressional reporting requirements.

Despite publicly condemning Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, President Biden has maintained his “ironclad” support for Israel and has not taken concrete steps to use US military assistance as leverage to influence Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actions.

Benjamin Netanyahu (Credits: NBC News)

Israel has provided written assurances that it is not violating humanitarian laws in Gaza, and the State Department has indicated that it has not found Israel in violation of international humanitarian law.

The upcoming report to Congress will reveal whether the Biden administration will hold Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza and restrict further transfer of US offensive military aid.

The administration should take this opportunity to uphold its responsibilities and ensure that US weapons are not used to perpetuate humanitarian and human rights violations.

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