Blinken pressed by Senate Democrats on IDF use of US military aid
Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Israel is not violating the law that prevents the US from providing aid to foreign militaries that violate human rights with impunity.
Blinken is asked the question by Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz during an appearance before the the Senate Appropriations Committee on the State Department’s annual budget. Progressive Democrats have been increasingly raising their concerns over US military aid to Israel, due to IDF activities in the West Bank.
“To the best of my knowledge, they are” in compliance, Blinken tells Schatz, adding that the Biden administration takes compliance with the so-called Leahy Law very seriously and is constantly monitoring how US military assistance is being used around the world.
Also during his testimony, Blinken is pressed by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen to specify what the US will do if either Israel or the Palestinian Authority violates commitments to de-escalate tensions that were made at the Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh regional summit over the past two months.
Van Hollen notes Netanyahu’s remarks after the first gathering that were seen as downplaying Israel’s commitments to halt settlement approvals, in addition to the law passed by the Knesset on Monday that allows for resettlement of northern West Bank areas that were evacuated by Israel in 2005.
Blinken says he will not entertain hypotheticals and instead notes that both sides want the US to be engaged in order to help restore calm.
“If either or both sides is not doing what we believe is necessary to get us there, it will be hard, or maybe even futile, for us to be able to do that,” he says.