Human Rights Groups Demand Biden Publish Report On Israel’s Use Of U.S. Weapons

A coalition of press freedom, civil liberties and human rights organizations sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday to call on the Biden administration to make public an upcoming report on whether foreign countries — including Israel — are using U.S. military aid in ways that break international humanitarian laws.

For months, members of Congress have been demanding assurances that Israel, which receives U.S. military aid, has complied with international and U.S. law — which prohibits violence against civilians and efforts to block aid — in its war in Gaza. In response, President Joe Biden in February issued a memo known as NSM-20, which requires federal U.S. agencies to submit a report to Congress on whether countries that get U.S. military aid are in fact obeying the law.

The report’s initial deadline was May 8, though it is currently unclear if it will be ready to submit by Wednesday.

The Biden administration has not said explicitly if it will make the report publicly available.

But the letter’s signatories — including Amnesty International USA, Defending Rights & Dissent, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the National Press Photographers Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association and Reporters Without Borders — said that the “process established in NSM-20 suggests” that the report to Congress should be unclassified.

“The public and the press have an especially strong interest in understanding how the U.S. has assessed the assurances provided under NSM-20 by all countries that receive U.S. defense articles, and particularly those in areas of armed conflict,” read the letter.

“Your administration has pledged to ‘bring transparency and truth back to the government,’” the letter continued. “We urge you to adhere to this commitment by releasing the … report to Congress under NSM-20 to the press and the public.”

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The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, while the National Security Council referred the question to the State Department. The State Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost.

The Biden administration is facing growing pressure both domestically and from the international community over its continued diplomatic and military support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has so far killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7. While Hamas agreed this week to a proposal that would include a cease-fire and the return of hostages, Israel rejected the plan.

As Israel is poised to invade the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah — despite allies like the U.S. warning against it, due to the city’s large civilian population — lawmakers and humanitarians have are increasingly concerned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has committed war crimes.

An independent expert analysis endorsed by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) – a lawmaker who pushed for the NSM-20 report — said that Israel’s actions displayed “a clear pattern of violations of international law, failures to apply civilian harm mitigation best practices, and restrictions of humanitarian assistance.”

The Biden administration’s response to the upcoming report could see it step back from its full-throated support for Israel. Or it could further paint the administration as incapable of restraining its Middle Eastern ally, after more than seven months of carnage.

Access to the report “will allow the public to assess the thoroughness and accuracy of the U.S.’s assessment of [a] foreign country’s assurances, particularly in cases where there have been allegations that recipients have used U.S. assistance in a manner that violates international and U.S. law,” the Tuesday letter stated.

“Journalists and the public must have access to the May 8 report if they are to understand how the U.S. government responds to these allegations and determine whether it is adhering to the process and standards set forth in NSM-20.”

Amnesty International, one of the letter’s signatories, published a brief on April 29 in response to NSM-20, accusing Israel of breaking the law. If the Biden administration chooses to make its report public, people can compare it to the claims in Amnesty’s brief, Van Hollen told HuffPost in an interview published Friday.

“The Biden administration and the United States loses credibility when we point to reports by Amnesty or Human Rights Watch where [they] serv[e] our political interests, and sometimes ignores them when they don’t,” the senator told HuffPost. “In order to be credible, you need to be consistent.”


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