Is it Time to End Arms Sales to Israel?

Today’s Big Question from The Week: America’s longtime military support for Israel is suddenly in doubt. The U.S. has sent tens of thousands of weapons following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. But following the deaths of World Central Kitchen aid workers in an Israeli attack in Gaza, per The Associated Press, pressure to restrict or halt weapons transfers is coming from a “vocal minority of lawmakers in Congress.” 

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has been “sharply critical” of Israel’s conduct of the war — but has also “resisted placing limits on U.S. military aid.” Biden warned Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu that continued American support “depends on the swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.”

What did the commentators say?
The United States didn’t block a cease-fire resolution at the United Nations last month. Then “why do arms continue to flow” to Israel? “Joe Biden’s personal sense of commitment to Israel” has been honed over decades, Julian Borger said at The Guardian. There is also fear of leaving Israel vulnerable to other enemies, like Hezbollah. But “the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza may be changing those calculations.

“Cutting off weapons to an ally in wartime would be the definition of betrayal,” The Wall Street Journal said. The willingness to end weapons transfers “must overjoy Hamas,” but it’s no surprise: “Democrats have a history of abandoning friends in hard times.”

The debate in Washington means Israeli leaders are “rethinking” their country’s dependence on U.S. weapons, Herb Keinon said at The Jerusalem Post. Support among Americans for Israel is at the lowest point in 20 years. “No surprise, then,” if Israel “plans to start manufacturing more of its own arms.”

What next?
The U.S. is Israel’s biggest backer, but not the only one. Pressure is growing on other allies to stop their weapons transfers, as well. In the United Kingdom, more than 600 legal experts wrote to Rishi Sunak to warn the country risks breaking international law with its sales. And Nicaragua asked the International Court of Justice to order a halt to Germany’s weapons sales to Israel, said the BBC.

Democrats in Congress could try to pass a “joint resolution of disapproval” of arms sales, Politico said, but that would have to pass both the House and Senate, and perhaps overcome a veto by Biden. That’s a “high bar” to pass. In the meantime, the clock is ticking.

Source link: The Week.