26 House Dems Voice ‘Deep Concern’ Over Biden Claim That Israel Is Legally Using US Arms

A letter from 26 lawmakers notes the "stark differences and gaps" between what Biden administration officials say and the opinions of "prominent experts and global institutions" accusing Israel of genocide.

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More than two dozen House Democrats on Tuesday challenged the Biden administration’s claim that Israel is using U.S.-supplied weapons in compliance with domestic and international law—an assertion made amid an ongoing World Court probe of “plausibly” genocidal Israeli policies and practices in Gaza.

Citing “mounting credible and deeply troubling reports and allegations” of human rights crimes committed by Israeli troops in Gaza and soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank, 26 congressional Democrats led by Texas Reps. Veronica Escobar—who co-chairs President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign—and Joaquin Castro asked U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines “whether and how” their agencies determined Israel is lawfully using arms provided by Washington.

“We write to express our deep concern regarding the U.S. Department of State’s recent comments regarding assurances from the Israeli government, under National Security Memorandum (NSM) 20, that the Israeli government is using U.S.-origin weapons in full compliance with relevant U.S. and international law and is not restricting the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Cabinet members.

The letter acknowledges the “grave concerns” of institutions and experts around the world regarding Israel’s “conduct throughout the war in Gaza, its policies regarding civilian harm and military targeting, unauthorized expansion of settlements and settler violence in the West Bank, and potential use of U.S. arms by settlers, in additional to limitations on humanitarian aid supported by the U.S.”

The legislators noted Israeli attacks on aid convoys, workers, and recipients—like the February 29 ” Flour Massacre” in which nearly 900 starving Palestinians were killed or wounded at a food distribution site—and “the closure of vital border crossings” as Gazan children starve to death as causes for serious concern.

While the lawmakers didn’t mention the International Court of Justice’s January 26 preliminary finding that Israel is “plausibly” committing genocide in Gaza, their letter highlights the “stark differences and gaps in the statements” made by Biden administration officials and “those made by prominent experts and global institutions“—many of whom accuse Israel of genocide.

The lawmakers’ letter came amid reports of fresh Israeli atrocities, including a drone strike on a playground in the Maghazi refugee camp in northern Gaza that killed at least 11 children. Eyewitnesses described a “horrific scene of children torn apart.”

While Biden has called out Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza—much of it carried out using U.S.-supplied warplanes and munitions including 2,000-pound bombs that can level whole city blocks—his administration has approved more than 100 arms sales to Israel, has repeatedly sidestepped Congress to fast-track emergency armed aid, and is seeking to provide the key ally with billions of dollars in addition weaponry atop the nearly $4 billion it gets annually from Washington.

This, despite multiple federal laws—and the administration’s own rules— prohibiting U.S. arms transfers to human rights violators.

According to Palestinian and international officials, more than 110,000 Palestinians have been killed or wounded by Israeli forces since October 7. Most of the dead are women and children. At least 7,000 Palestinians are also missing and presumed dead and buried beneath the rubble of hundreds of thousands of bombed-out homes and other buildings.

Around 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been forcibly displaced in what many Palestinians are calling a second Nakba, a reference to the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

A growing number of not only progressive lawmakers but also mainstream Democrats are calling for a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel.

On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who was criticized earlier in the war for not calling for a cease-fire—stood beside a photo of a starving Gazan girl while declaring “no more money for” the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his “war machine.”

Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

21 thoughts on “26 House Dems Voice ‘Deep Concern’ Over Biden Claim That Israel Is Legally Using US Arms”

    1. I am starting to think more like 1884. Time to drive the natives from their homes to make room for our colonies!

  1. Only a depraved mind, would claim that the Zionist State of Israel, is NOT committing Genocide.

    1. “Only a depraved mind, would claim that the Zionist State of Israel, is NOT committing Genocide.”

      In fact, I don’t think the US can support its claims that Israel is in compliance with international law – either in its use of US weapons, or in its control of humanitarian aid.

      Even w/mainstream press narratives that avoid evidence and rationalize US-Israel’s ongoing blatant atrocities, I think there is too much evidence – supported by too many authorities – to mount a plausible evidence-based argument of lawful US-Israel acts.

      Instead – if the US were ever forced to substantiate its unsupported claims – I think it would be forced to fall back on Israel’s own all-encompassing justification for its crimes. The justification that places Israel’s actions uniquely beyond any human law or authority: that any and every Israeli crime – including genocide – is justified on the grounds of its ‘right to self-defense.’

      The US doesn’t want to play that card. Putting Israel and itself beyond the reach of international laws condemning genocide as ‘the crime of all crimes’? Very ‘bad optics’…Which is why I hope this demand forces the US to ‘play it.’

  2. In the beginning, Sanders stood by Israel and blamed the war on Hamas and did not say Israel was committing genocide. He only changed his tune due to protests outside his office.
    Israel has been committing ethnic cleansing since 1948 and has been committing genocide in Gaza since October 2023.
    Sanders said: “The US must use all its leverage to secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and across the region and ensure humanitarian aid access. History will judge what we do right now”.
    History will also judge Sanders for being wishy -washy like John Kerry.

    1. All politicians follow the winds, conduct strategy sessions to determine what the “word” will be on a given day. Zero compassion, morality, just strategy, their noses in the air, sniffing the shifting winds. Extensive use of a compliant media helps.

  3. As an aside, I don’t know why people keep saying the Iran missiles “hit nothing”. They did in fact drop 4-9 missiles on two airbases. The damage done was not extensive, but they were in fact the primary targets of the attack along with a couple of Israeli intelligence HQ (I don’t know the extent of any damage there.)

    The missiles involved were either hypersonic missiles which could not be intercepted or they were slower missiles which were protected by preceding missiles, as Major Jacques Baud pointed out in the video I referenced here earlier.

    As Scott Ritter also pointed out, those two airbases are two of the most heavily defended military assets Israel has – and the defensive systems completely failed to defend them.

    As I pointed out in my Substack article, those targets were precisely the point of the retaliation because those airfields contain aircraft intended to carry nuclear weapons. At least one is in the Negev Desert – which is also where the Dimona nuclear plant is located. Israel was signaling that it could hit Israel’s nuclear arsenal any time it wants and that Israel would be unable to stop them.

      1. “Oh, sorry, there was a terrorist hiding under the swing set. /s”

        1/ Israel still rationalizes killing Palestinian civilians on the ground that ‘not all of them are innocent’:

        “Bad Hasbara 21: Sorry Lo Sorry, with Abby Martin”
        [Youtube, see from about 55:00-1:00:00]

        2/ FOLKS – “Bad Hasbara” is a worthwhile show by Jews exposing and ridiculing Israeli and Zionist propaganda.

  4. “26 House Dems Voice ‘Deep Concern’ Over Biden Claim That Israel Is Legally Using US Arms” and this is exactly why everyone of those Demo Rats will be voting for the $26 Billion military aid to Israel. Anyone disagrees, please prove me wrong!

    1. They are not concerns. They are the result of strategy sessions to determine the “word” for the day. Media will take it and run with it. True journalism is dead. The assault on Assange, if it goes as I believe it will, opens the vault door to 1984. Your grandchildren will be in the streets chanting, “I Love Big Brother”.

  5. “How” did the WH “determine” Israel is using US arms lawfully? A key question, imo. Our story so far:

    1/ Since the ICJ finding of “plausible” genocide, the White House has rejected it out of hand – ie, without providing an authority or evidence for its rejection of the evidence-based finding of almost all members of a body of specialist judges who assembled, studied and debated the evidence.

    2/ Likewise – massive credible reports to the contrary – the WH has repeatedly asserted Israel is using arms in compliance w/intnat’l law, and not blocking humanitarian aid. Again, no authority for this claim, no evidence.

    3/ Now a lawmaker letter asks: How did you arrive at this position? What’s your authority? Your evidence? You’ve ‘seen no evidence of violations’? Let’s see that evidence – What you’ve gathered, what you’ve ignored.

    4/ Upshot? The letter is a good thing:
    a/ because it is a demand for democracy – for open and accountable, transparent government – which the question points up the lack of.
    b/ As such, the question – especially from within the Dem Party – undercuts the authority of the White House – says, ‘no, we don’t simply trust you.’
    c/ Like other ‘internal’ dissent – the unsigned letters, the resignations – by itself it does little – but may strengthen ‘external’ citizen refusal to accept the administration’s baseless claims – hence further undercutting its authority.

  6. The U.S. is breaking its own laws by providing Israel with the means to conduct more genocide by providing the 2,000 pound bombs.

  7. Israel isn’t a ‘key ally’- Israel is simultaneously a bought and paid for mercenary and a bully to its benefactor.

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