Biden may attach conditions to US aid to Israel

Biden may attach conditions to US aid to Israel

• Adviser Sullivan believes prisoners release a testament to effectiveness of direct presidential diplomacy
• Senator Bernie Sanders says ‘blank cheque approach’ by US must end

WASHINGTON: In a significant shift of tone, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted on Sunday at the possibility of President Joe Biden attaching conditions to US aid to

Israel while his deputy Jon Finer added that US aid was never unconditional.

In interviews to various US television channels, Mr Sullivan stated that President Biden acknowledged the notion during a recent press conference. This development comes as health officials in Gaza report a staggering toll from weeks of Israeli attacks, with over 14,500 deaths and 1.7 million people displaced.

Pressed on whether President Biden would consider legislation attaching conditions to aid for Israel, Mr Sullivan did not rule out the possibility.

“He is going to continue to focus on what is going to generate results,” he said, pointing to the recent prisoner releases as a testament to the effectiveness of direct presidential diplomacy behind closed doors with both Israeli and Arab partners.

As pressure mounts from some Democrats expressing empathy towards Palestinians, President Biden’s openness to considering conditions on aid to Israel reflects a nuanced approach. During a recent press gathering, Mr Biden referred to the idea as a “worthwhile thought.”

Mr Sullivan emphasised the administration’s commitment to results-driven diplomacy, highlighting the ongoing efforts behind closed doors to address the crisis.

The international community continues to monitor the situation closely, with the United States navigating a delicate balance between supporting the Israeli military action and recognising the humanitarian impact of the unrest.

As the Biden administration grapples with the complexities of the region, the possibility of attaching conditions to aid adds a new dimension to US-Israel relations, potentially reshaping the dynamics of American involvement in the ongoing crisis.

In another interview, Deputy National Security Adviser Mr Finer emphasised the principle that “no assistance that the United States provides to any country is unconditional.”

He said that while Israel had the right to defend itself, “those rights come with obligations and that obligation includes conducting this conflict in a way that distinguishes civilians from non-combatants in a way that is proportional.”

Mr Finer accused Hamas of committing “flagrant violations of international laws” but said that “this does not diminish Israel’s obligations, it is a facet of this conflict that makes the challenge extremely daunting.”

Responding to another question, Mr Sullivan revealed that 10 American prisoners remain in Gaza, with three of them qualifying for release under the latest deal due to being women and children.

Twenty-four prisoners were released on Friday in the first wave and an additional 17 were released on Saturday, including a 9-year-old Israeli Irish girl who was believed to be dead.

Just hours before 4-year-old American prisoner Abigail Idan was released by Hamas in Gaza, Mr Sullivan said “we have reasons to believe she would be released soon.”

In a piece he wrote for New York Times last week, Senator Bernie Sanders, said that alth­ough the US has provided Israel a “substantial” amount of aid in its war with Hamas, the “blank cheque approach must end.”

“The United States must make clear that … there are conditions to that friendship and that we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency,” he wrote.

“That includes an end to indiscriminate bombing; a significant pause (for humanitarian assistance to (reach Gaza). the right of displaced Gazans to return to their homes; no long-term Israeli occupation of Gaza; an end to settler violence in the West Bank and a freeze on settlement expansion; and a commitment to broad peace talks for a two-state solution in the wake of the war.”

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023


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