US rights groups urge Biden to halt Israel arms sales
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.
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.
We're proud to stand with 100+ organizations calling on the Biden administration to immediately halt the $735 million weapons sale to Israel.— Jewish Voice for Peace Action #SaveSheikhJarrah (@JvpAction) June 8, 2021
We know exactly how Israel uses these weapons. Under no circumstances can this sale go through.https://t.co/GsxwSNSlvl
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.