US rights groups urge Biden to halt Israel arms sales

Over 100 human rights groups urge Biden to halt Israel arms sales
2 min read
09 June, 2021
Signatories to the letter include the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Democracy for the Arab World Now and Defence for Children International - Palestine. 
President Biden has said repeatedly that Israel has a 'right to defend itself' [Getty]

More than a hundred humanitarian organisations published an open letter on Tuesday urging US President Joe Biden to "immediately halt" impending arms sales to Israel. 

Signatories to the letter include the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Democracy for the Arab World Now and Defence for Children International - Palestine. 

"The planned arms sales to Israel would send a signal of support for Israel’s recent conduct in occupied Gaza and East Jerusalem, which includes likely violations of international humanitarian law," the co-signed letter read.

Analysis
Live Story

The groups expressed concern that the "situation remains extremely fragile" with Israeli forces continuing raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque following a ceasefire agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Last month, the Biden administration approved a $735 million sale of US-manufactured weapons to Israel. The sale includes the same types of weapons used by Israel in its recent 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May, which killed 253 Palestinians, including around 66 children.

The letter said that delivery of the weapons would "greatly undermine [the] administration’s goal of pursuing a foreign policy centred on human rights." It urged the president to “provide robust humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Gaza and engage in the sustained and impartial diplomacy."

"It is outrageous that the Biden administration would even consider an arms sale to Israel, especially in the wake of the Israeli military’s most recent assault on Gaza," said Beth Miller, Senior Government Affairs Manager at Jewish Voice for Peace Action. 

Attempts to block the sale in Congress led by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders failed on technical grounds. The State Department approved the licenses before Congress could debate and vote on them. 

Biden has been a vocal supporter of Israel, stating repeatedly during the recent Israeli assault that “Israel has a right to defend itself”.

Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director at Democracy for the Arab World Now, called the decision “right out of the Donal Trump playbook”. 

“There is no reason to approve additional weapons sales to Israel - let alone by deliberately evading Congressional oversight and public debate,” Jarrar said.