Crucial State Department report expected to absolve Israel of breaking international law in Gaza

2 weeks ago 108

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A State Department report is expected to find that Israel has not violated the terms of a US weapons agreement, according to the Associated Press.

The result of the investigation could have required the US to stop sending weapons to its ally if it found Israel had broken US and international humanitarian law while conducting its war against Hamas in Gaza.

While the report is expected to be critical of Israel’s conduct in Gaza, it did not find that it breached the terms of a US-Israel agreement governing arms sales, the AP reported, citing a US official.

The report was the result of a presidential directive that came following pressure from Democrats to force the administration to rule on whether US-made weapons sent to Israel were being used lawfully.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, who spearheaded the push for the investigation, told The Independent earlier this week: “This report will be a test of the Biden administration’s credibility as to whether or not they’re willing to look at all the facts and apply the law to the war in Gaza.”

The Independent has previously reported on claims from former State Department and Pentagon officials that the administration’s investigations into potential war crimes committed by Israel are being undermined by President Joe Biden’s insistence on providing his close ally with billions of dollars in military support.

The former officials said the president’s decades-long and deeply held personal connection to Israel renders US laws and regulations concerning US arms sales essentially toothless.

“There’s no incentive to investigate if the president and the White House themselves have announced that aid is unconditional,” said Brian Finucane, who worked for a decade in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the State Department advising on arms transfers and the laws of war.

“That means they don’t want to hear inconvenient legal conclusions,” he told The Independent last month.

Charles Blaha, former director of the State Department’s Office of Security and Human Rights, which regulates weapons transfers, said investigations into breaches of humanitarian law in the Gaza conflict — if they are taking place at all — are likely not being taken seriously.

“My sense is that people get patted on the head and say, ‘this is all very interesting,’ But I think the president is the decider here,” he said in April.

The State Department has been working on the report for months. It was due to be delivered on Wednesday but was delayed.

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