Above Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.
Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) joined more than 100 national organizations in signing a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to block the delivery of $735 million in weapons to Israel. Faith based groups such as Churches for Middle East Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace Action joined with more secular groups like Defense of Children International – Palestine, Justice Democrats, Indivisible, Sunrise Movement, and DAWN on the letter.
In early May, the Israeli government used U.S.-manufactured weapons in a devastating assault on Gaza, killing over 220 Palestinians, including at least 67 children. Israeli airstrikes displaced tens of thousands of Palestinians and destroyed schools, refugee camps, international media outlets, hospitals, and Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing lab.
Amid this escalation of violence, news broke that the Biden administration had approved a $735 million sale to Israel of the same types of weapons used against Gaza. Although resolutions to oppose the sale were introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives, the State Department quietly approved the licenses before Congress could debate and vote on them. This national coalition of organizations is now calling on President Biden to halt delivery of these weapons.
“The Biden administration must use its existing authority to block delivery of this $735 million sale of offensive arms to Israel,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative manager for Middle East policy at FCNL. “Moving ahead with these transfers will be seen as an endorsement of Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Gaza and encourage more acts of violence against Palestinian civilians. The administration’s efforts should instead be focused on delivering humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, helping with reconstruction efforts in Gaza, using U.S. leverage with Israel to end its occupation and blockade, and supporting human rights and justice for Israelis and Palestinians.”
“After the violence and destruction of the past several weeks—including the deaths of over 60 children in Gaza— allowing for additional weapons sales at this moment to Israel directly undermines efforts to help bring about a just and sustainable peace for all in Israel/Palestine,” said Kyle Cristofalo, Churches for Middle Peace’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations. “More weapons will only lead to further suffering and deaths. If the Biden Administration wants to play a constructive role in the region and advance human rights, it must instead prioritize ensuring the proper humanitarian goods and assistance can reach Gaza and advance policies that address the systemic injustices brought on by the occupation.”
“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. “The world just saw exactly how Israel uses these weapons – to destroy infrastructure and wipe out families. By rubber stamping the sale, Biden is giving a green light to the Israeli government to continue killing Palestinians with our weapons. Under no circumstances should this sale go through.”
“Israeli forces conduct hostilities with a near complete disregard for international law, killing over 1,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip since 2008 with impunity,” said Brad Parker, Senior Adviser for Policy and Advocacy at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “A generation of Palestinian children have been shot, shelled, and bombed with U.S.-sourced weapons, from warplanes and attack helicopters to precision-guided munitions and hellfire missiles. The Biden administration should be pursuing investigations into serious breaches of international law by Israeli forces, not unconditionally providing more weapons to attack civilian buildings and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”
“The Biden administration promised to uphold democratic processes, transparency, and the rule of law, but the decision to ram through the license approval and circumvent a Senate vote seemed right out of the Donald Trump playbook,” said Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). “There is no reason to approve additional weapons sales to Israel — let alone by deliberately evading Congressional oversight and public debate.”
“The Palestinian-American community will not quietly accept lip service paid to the rights of our families in Palestine to live in freedom, dignity and equality while the Biden administration continues to give Israel the weapons to murder, colonize and oppress them,” said Huwaida Arraf, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee and founding member of New Generation for Palestine. “Nor should the American people at large tolerate our tax dollars being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which Israel is now being investigated by the International Criminal Court. President Biden has repeatedly talked about “restoring respect for the rule of law.” He should start by respecting US law that prohibits the United States from providing military assistance to foreign forces that violate human rights with impunity and put a stop to this weapons transfer.”