A national security memorandum has been issued by President Joe Biden, which mandates that foreign governments that are recipients of U.S. military aid furnish written confirmation that the aid will be utilized in adherence to international law.
The White House’s Friday demand for increased accountability coincides with Biden’s heightened criticism of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which he described as “excessive” last week in reference to the ongoing assault on Hamas.
Although Biden’s ultimatum did not target a particular nation, its timing was significant due to the apprehensions expressed by legislators concerning Israel’s Gaza operation in the wake of mounting allegations of genocide.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced a budget amendment a year ago that would have similarly mandated compliance with international law for military aid. However, he has since retracted that proposal in response to Vice President Biden’s directive.
“The president has now incorporated all of these crucial elements of the amendment into the national security memorandum,” he stated.
Van Hollen and over a dozen Democratic legislators applauded Biden’s most recent action, stating that it would impose additional human rights safeguards on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Because we succeeded in getting the provisions of the amendment adopted as a matter of U.S. government policy, we will no longer be seeking a vote on the amendment because we’ve accomplished our goal now with the assistance of the president and the administration,” Van Hollen explained.
An additional military aid and border security package fails in the U.S. Senate.
Biden’s action comes eighteen weeks after the Palestinian militant organization Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel on October 7, which prompted the Israeli military to launch an all-out invasion of Gaza.
An estimated 28,000 Palestinians, including Hamas militants, have been killed as a consequence of the operation thus far, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Saturday.
Biden mandated that one hundred governments procuring weaponry from the United States furnish “credible and reliable written assurances” substantiating adherence to international legal norms.
Additionally, foreign governments are obligated to ensure the transportation of humanitarian assistance from the United States to civilian populations impacted by conflicts, and to provide periodic updates on the situation to both Congress and the White House.
There is a 180-day deadline for U.S. allies to affix their signatures to the assurances. Those engaged in active hostilities, including Israel and Ukraine, have only forty-five days to adhere.
According to Biden’s directive, in the event that compliance challenges arise, a strategy must be executed to effectively tackle and rectify the situation.
“Such remediation could include actions from refreshing the assurances to suspending any further transfers of defense articles or, as appropriate, defense services,” according to the memorandum.
Israel has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. military aid since 1950, receiving an estimated $3.8 billion annually from Washington. This places Israel at the forefront of recipients of such funding on a global scale.