Groups urge Biden to halt $735m weapons sale to Israel

Moving ahead with the weapons sale gives the ‘green signal’ to Israeli abuses of Palestinians, rights advocates say.

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Peace advocates and pro-Palestinian groups in the United States are calling on President Joe Biden to halt a $735m sale of precision-guided bombs to Israel that the Biden administration has fast-tracked.

“We are knowingly transferring weapons to a country that is engaged in not only aggression but also a massive violation of human rights,” said Huwaida Arraf, co-chair of the Palestine subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild and organizer for Palestinian rights in the US.

“Our government is enabling Israel, not just with the billions of dollars that we send to Israel, but by shielding Israel from any accountability,” Arraf told Al Jazeera.

An open letter to Biden was signed by a coalition of over 100 organizations, including Churches for Middle East Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Democratic-leaning political groups Justice Democrats, MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Sunrise Movement.

According to the letter, “the intended weapons sales to Israel would send a signal of support for Israel’s recent actions in occupied Gaza and East Jerusalem, which includes possible violations of international humanitarian law”.

“We believe moving ahead with these sales would undermine US moral values, national security interests, and likely support violations of international humanitarian law by sending a green light for Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights,” the groups said.

The Biden administration formally notified Congress of the planned $735m weapons sale on May 5, giving legislators 15 days to raise objections. However,  the State Department issued a license on May 21 to manufacturer Boeing Comp to proceed with the sale.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders filed resolutions in Congress to block the sale under the US arms control law.

Over 11 days in May, the Israeli bombing of Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children and displaced more than 58,000 people from their homes. Twelve people in Israel, including two children, were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian groups in Gaza.

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