State Department Should Revoke License
(Washington, D.C., May 25, 2021): The U.S. State Department secretly approved an export license for a $735 million weapons sale to Israel on Friday, May 21, 2021, effectively circumventing Congressional review, debate, and vote on the controversial sale.
Though the State Department refused to disclose whether or not it had approved the sale when queried by journalists on Friday, Jewish Currents today confirmed the export license was indeed issued on Friday. The State Department should revoke the license and allow Congress to debate and vote on arms sales to Israel, as requested by Members of Congress in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Secretary Blinken is visiting Israel and the West Bank today.
"That the State Department felt compelled to keep its approval of this new arms sale to Israel secret from the American public is all you need to know about its apparent anxiety at proceeding with this troubling deal while Israeli war crimes and apartheid rule continue unabated," said DAWN's Advocacy Director Raed Jarrar. "Rather than secretly approving arms sales to Israel ahead of his meeting with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, Secretary Blinken should do his due diligence and travel across Gaza to see exactly what kind of harm and destruction American weapons are causing Palestinians," said Jarrar.
Pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) of 1976, any Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) of weapons to Israel should include a 15 day review period by the U.S. Congress. On May 5, 2021, the State Department notified Congress about its intention to grant the Boeing Company a license to sell Israel $735 million in joint direct attack munitions, small-diameter bombs, and related material. Members of Congress formally introduced resolutions to oppose the sale in both the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Under the Arms Export Control Act, the Senate can vote on the resolution within ten days of its introduction.
Congressional oversight of US weapons approvals is an integral part of the constitutional system of checks and balances that gives the US public, through its elected representatives, a say in foreign policy.
"The Biden administration promised to uphold democratic processes, transparency, and the rule of law, but this decision to ram through the license approval and circumvent a Senate vote seems right out of the Donald Trump playbook," said Jarrar. "There is no reason to approve additional weapons sales to Israel — let alone by deliberately evading Congressional oversight and public debate."
Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits transferring weapons to "any country or state that engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." U.S. state department human rights reports, as well as the reports of international and regional human rights organizations and U.N. bodies repeatedly and for many years have documented such a persistent pattern of violations of human rights under both human rights and international humanitarian laws, including unlawful settlements in occupied territory, land theft, forced displacement, indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on civilians, and the crimes of apartheid and persecution.
Photo Credits: GAZA, PALESTINE – 2021/05/15: An Israeli airstrike destroys a high-rise building in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, that housed media outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. (Photo by Nidal Alwaheidi/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)