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Democrats Urges Biden to Stop Transfer of Weapons to Israel After WCK Strike

Democrats Urges Biden to Stop Transfer of Weapons to Israel After WCK Strike
Source: Getty Images, Democrats Urges Biden to Stop Transfer of Weapons to Israel After WCK Strike

A group of House Democrats has called on President Joe Biden to reassess the United States' arms dealings with Israel. This move comes in response to an Israeli airstrike that struck a humanitarian aid convoy in Gaza, resulting in the tragic deaths of seven World Central Kitchen workers, including one American citizen.

The congressional members, spearheaded by Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Mark Pocan, and Jim McGovern, have written a letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They have expressed their shared alarm and outrage over the incident and urged the administration to withhold the pending offensive weapons transfers to Israel. The lawmakers are calling for a comprehensive investigation into the airstrike and are seeking accountability for any potential violations of U.S. or international law.

In their letter, the lawmakers stated, "In light of this incident, we strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed. If this strike is found to have violated U.S. or international law, we urge you to continue withholding these transfers until those responsible are held accountable. We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate – or arbitrarily denies or restricts – the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza".

This collective action by the Democrats marks a potential pivot in U.S. foreign policy, reflecting the party's increasing discomfort with the current military strategy in the region. Reports suggest that the Biden administration is contemplating slowing down some weaponry deliveries to Israel, which would represent a shift from mere rhetorical pressure to actual policy changes.

The incident has also led to a rift within the party, with some pro-Israel Democrats distancing themselves from the administration's escalating rhetoric on Israel. This division became apparent following a tense call between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which the president threatened policy changes unless the U.S. sees Israel take a new approach in Gaza.

Senator Peter Welch of Vermont has voiced his concerns, suggesting that the recent events could mark a turning point in America's strategy towards the conflict in Gaza and its relationship with Israel. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of Biden, has also expressed support for the first time in placing conditions on U.S. arms shipments to Israel to ensure the protection of civilians.

The letter from the House Democrats underscores the dire humanitarian conditions faced by Palestinian civilians and the chilling effect the attack has had on humanitarian groups. Many organizations have suspended their operations in Gaza, further exacerbating the hunger crisis in the region.

The Biden administration's response to this congressional call for arms review could have far-reaching implications for the future of U.S.-Israel relations and the broader Middle East peace process.

The debate over U.S. military aid to Israel is not new, but the recent airstrike has brought it to the forefront of political discourse. The Democratic lawmakers' letter highlights the estimated 32,000 people killed in Gaza since the start of the war, nearly half of whom are children. The Israeli government's restrictions on the flow of aid into Gaza, coupled with the death and grave harm that aid workers have faced during this war, are compounding this hunger crisis. Recent reports indicate that hundreds of aid trucks sit idle outside the Rafah border crossing due to Israel’s restrictions. Over 200 aid workers have been killed since the start of the war, and the World Central Kitchen and other humanitarian groups are now suspending their operations in Gaza.

The World Central Kitchen has been a lifeline for Palestinians in Gaza, providing more than 43 million meals, supporting 68 community kitchens throughout the territory, and serving more than 170,000 hot meals each day. Its services are irreplaceable, and its absence will fuel the growing hunger crisis in Gaza.

In light of the recent strike against aid workers and the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis, the Democratic members of Congress believe it is unjustifiable to approve these weapons transfers. Their call for a reevaluation of U.S. arms policy towards Israel is a reflection of a broader concern for human rights and the ethical implications of military support.

The Biden administration's decision in response to this pressure will not only affect U.S.-Israel relations but also set a precedent for how the United States approaches foreign policy decisions that intersect with human rights issues.