State Department Report Presents Contradictory Findings on Israel’s Illegal Use of U.S. Weapons in Gaza

Interview with Raed Jarrar, advocacy diector at DAWN, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Two important events occurred in the fight for Palestinian liberation in mid-May. First, the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly — again — in favor of admitting Palestine as a full member state; as of 2012 it was admitted with observer status only. But the General Assembly’s decision must be ratified by the Security Council and the U.S. is almost guaranteed to veto recognition.

Secondly, on May 10 the U.S. State Department issued a report, called for by the Biden administration, to determine whether or not Israel is abiding by U.S. law in its use of U.S.-supplied weapons in its war in Gaza. The report was completely contradictory in its findings, claiming that Israel likely did violate the law, but the report did not find specific instances that could force the U.S. to withhold military aid.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Raed Jarrar, advocacy director with DAWN, a nonprofit organization that supports democracy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Here he talks about the recent U.N. General Assembly vote admitting Palestine as a member state, and Israel’s alleged illegal use of U.S. weapons in its war in Gaza.

RAED JARRAR: But the vote was definitely a clear message that the international community – the world – would like to recognize Palestinians, their right for self-determination, their right to exist, their right to be seen as peers. It was an overwhelming majority of the world who voted for the recommendation that the United Nations Security Council reconsider the adoption of a resolution that would actually add Palestine as a member state.

MELINDA TUHUS: That kind of leads into the other issue, which was that on May 10, the State Department issued a report which a member of another body –  an independent group that also looked at these issues and summarized them – said was completely self-contradictory, because it was saying there’s evidence that U.S. weapons are being used to kill Palestinian civilians, but there’s not enough evidence to stop the U.S. from continuing to support Israel with lots of weapons.

RAED JARRAR: This report not only recognizes that Israel has committed very serious violation of U.S. and international law, but the report also confirms that Israel has refused to collaborate with the U.S. by sending the required information when asked about such violations.

And I think the combination of the U.S. finding merit to at least some of the allegations of violations of U.S .and international law and the fact that Israel is not collaborating – Israel is hiding evidence – it’s not sending the information, would have been and should have been enough for the U.S. to take decisive action and stop the flow of U.S. arms to Israel.

The report actually does not make any sense because the information included in the report contradicts the conclusion of the report. The information says, “Yes, Israel has committed crimes using U.S. weapons. Yes, Israel has violated U.S. law by preventing humanitarian aid from going to Gaza. And yes, Israel has blocked information that we have requested. But, no, we’re not going to enforce U.S. law and we’re not going to say that U.S. weapons have to be suspended. So that’s why, even according to the State Department’s own assessment, they are breaking the law now. That’s the point we’re at now, where the Biden administration is confirming to us every day that Israel is violating U.S. law, and that the continuation of U.S. funding to Israel is by itself is a violation of U.S. law, but at the same time they keep telling us they will continue sending U.S. weapons to Israel.

How long is it gonna take until our own president and our own secretary of state will start upholding our laws and stop violating U.S. regulations and requirements for their political considerations?

MELINDA TUHUS: Do you have any sense what DAWN, the organization you work with, what might be effective? I mean, is it important to rally international support to condemn the U.S. or is it more important to generate more opposition within the U.S., especially with an election coming up? In terms of policy, what does DAWN work on?

RAED JARRAR: We have been recommending an all-of-the-above approach — a comprehensive push for policy change. This includes everything we’re seeing now. Organizations like DAWN, we are engaged with demonstrations. We’re asking them to stop the flow of arms to Israel. We’re asking them to sanction Israeli officials who are violating U.S. and international law. At the same time, everything else is important: when folks call the members of Congress and call the White House comment line; when people demonstrate on campuses and join protests locally and nationally.

All these things are very important, because it is an all-of-the-above approach. This is a once in a lifetime kind of crisis — an ongoing genocide that is being committed with our money and with our political capital as a country, here. So an all of the above approach means that we’re gonna get out of our usual cycles and make our voices heard even louder — protesting in the streets, protests and meetings with Congress, let this administration know that we’re not happy with our money and our political capital being used for an ongoing genocide.

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