The Biden administration, after urging by left-wing Democrats, issued a memorandum Thursday that will require Israel to submit a report within 45 days on its compliance with international humanitarian law in its war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
The memorandum, announced by the White House, theoretically applies to any country that receives weapons from the United States and is actively involved in armed conflict. But the White House all but admitted Friday that it was targeted at Israel.
The following exchange took place during Friday’s White House press briefing with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (via White House transcript):
Q Thank you, Karine. Last night, soon after the President’s remarks about Israel, the administration announced a national security memo that calls for the State Department to obtain written assurances that countries that receive weapons from the U.S. will use those weapons in accordance with the law of war.
Jake Sullivan, Kirby, others have previously said that the U.S. already requires those assurances, so why did the administration feel the need to formalize that and ask for it in writing now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — so, this memor- — memorandum that you’re speaking of — and it merged, in part, with our discussions with members of Congress. And so, this, obviously, memo came out yesterday. And so, it’s called a national security memorandum. It outlines the standards and coun- — that countries must adhere, as you just laid it — as you just laid out.
But I also want to be clear: There are new — there are no new standards in this memo. We are not imposing new standards for military aid. That’s not what is in this memo. Instead, we are spelling out publicly the existing standards by the international law, including the law of armed conflict.
So, we are also — one thing that we are doing is creating a new annual report to Congress that members have requested. This is in request, because of interest of transparency. So, this is in line with conversations that we have with — with the congressional members, as we try to really, you know, work together in a way that — that makes sense and moves the ball forward.
But this is not new standards. This is — this is something — these are — these are — these are things that already exist — to your point — that is now in writing. And then, there — and we did create a new annual report for more transparency.
Q So, if Israel doesn’t sign off within the deadline of 45 days, because it is involved with active conflict, will the U.S. aid be cut off immediately?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what I can tell you is that we did brief the Israelis on this. They reiterated their willingness to provide these types of assurances. So, those conversations are happening, and they — obviously, they reiterated their willingness to — for these assurances.
Left-wing Democrats, and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have been pushing for reports on Israel’s compliance with human rights standards as a way of trying to embarrass Israel and to stop U.S. support for Israel’s war effort against Hamas in Gaza.
When put to a vote, Sanders’s suggestion only received eleven votes in the Senate. By issuing a memorandum, President Joe Biden is essentially suggesting that congressional will be set aside and that Israel be forced to comply the demands of its critics.
The new requirement comes amid increased pressure from the Biden administration on Israel to end the war, as well as increased public criticism. It also comes as Israel faces false charges of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.