Thu. May 23rd, 2024

U.S. pauses Israel weapons shipment over Rafah assault concerns

By 37ci3 May8,2024



The United States began considering future military aid transfers to Israel in April as the Netanyahu government moves closer to Operation Rafah despite calls from Biden, other world leaders and humanitarian officials.

The State Department is separately considering whether to approve future weapons transfers, including Joint Direct Attack Munitions kits that deploy precision guidance systems, the official said, adding that no final decision has been made on whether to resume weapons deliveries later. on the bombs.

The pressure on Netanyahu is increasing

Officials stressed that the pause did not signal a larger change in policy on arms supplies to Israel, but it was a rare step that signaled growing friction between the United States and its ally over the war.

CIA Director William Burns is expected to be in Israel on Wednesday to consult with officials there about the latest round of cease-fire talks in Cairo, a source familiar with the situation said.

Hamas said Monday it accepted the terms of an offer brokered by Egypt and Qatar, but Israel said it was “far from” fulfilling its demands. According to a senior administration official, negotiators are trying to resolve disagreements over milestones, among other disagreements, on a ceasefire agreement that would provide for the release of hostages.

“It is positive that they are still dating, but it is too early to be optimistic,” the official said. “We need them to close their differences, but the differences are few.”

Last week, the decision to suspend the arms supply was reported for the first time AxiosIt appeared the Biden administration would miss a Wednesday deadline to submit a long-awaited report to Congress on whether Israel’s use of US weapons complies with international law.

Multiple administration officials told NBC News that the Biden administration would miss the deadline, with State Department spokesman Matt Miller confirming to reporters Tuesday afternoon that a delay was possible.

“We are working hard to meet this deadline,” Miller said. “It’s possible that it could slip a little bit, but we’re still trying to make it through tomorrow.”

The report was issued under the National Security Memorandum signed by Biden in February, which requires the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense to assess whether recipients of US military aid in active hostilities are using those weapons in accordance with international law.

If such countries are found not to be acting in accordance with international law, the Biden Administration has 45 days to recommend appropriate next steps to “correct the situation,” including halting any further transfers of US military aid.

As of Wednesday morning, there was no word on whether a report would be forthcoming.

Facing mounting criticism at home and abroad, Biden has increasingly clashed with Netanyahu over the conduct of his military in Gaza and his insistence on the Rafah operation, which Israel says is needed to destroy Hamas but fears would be disastrous for civilians in southern Gaza.

“The US position has been that Israel should not launch a major ground operation in Rafah, where more than a million people have no place to go,” a senior administration official explained of the US decision to halt arms shipments.

The Israeli army’s ground and air operation east of Rafah comes after the enclave warned about 100,000 people to evacuate what was once considered a safe zone for Palestinians fleeing an Israeli offensive.



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