Blinken hasn’t decided whether to sanction Israel for committing gross human rights abuses

Blinken hasn’t decided whether to sanction Israel for committing gross human rights abuses

JTA reports:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has yet to make a determination on whether the United States will withhold some defense assistance from Israel because of human rights abuses by one of its army’s most notorious units.

A source familiar with the State Department review of alleged abuses by units of the Israel Defense Forces on Friday pushed back against reports earlier this week that Blinken had made a determination to withhold funding from the Netzach Yehuda battalion, which was formed to integrate haredi Orthodox soldiers into the military.

There has been a determination that Israeli forces committed gross human rights abuses, the source confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, but there is not yet any decision about whether to withhold funds. The review was at the stage of determining whether Israel had applied appropriate accountability and remediation for the abuses. The process is “ongoing,” the source said and, under a U.S.-Israel memorandum of understanding, U.S. officials are consulting with their Israeli counterparts.

Soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda unit have been arrested and jailed for a litany of abuses against Palestinians over the years, including torture and assault. [Continue reading…]

The Associated Press reports:

A former senior U.S. official who until recently helped oversee human-rights compliance by foreign militaries receiving American military assistance said Wednesday that he repeatedly observed Israel receiving “special treatment” from U.S. officials when it came to scrutiny of allegations of Israeli military abuses of Palestinian civilians.

The allegation comes as the Biden administration faces intense pressure over its ally’s treatment of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. And matters because of who said it: Charles O. Blaha. Before leaving the post in August, he was a director of a State Department security and human rights office closely involved in helping ensure that foreign militaries receiving American military aid follow U.S. and international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Blaha said his departure from the State Department after decades of service was not related to the U.S.-Israeli security relationship. He is the second senior State official involved in that relationship to assert that when it comes to Israel, the U.S. is reluctant to enforce laws required of foreign militaries receiving American aid.

“In my experience, Israel gets special treatment that no other country gets,” Blaha said. “And there is undue deference, in many cases, given” to Israeli officials’ side of things when the U.S. asks questions about allegations of Israeli wrongdoing against Palestinians, he added. [Continue reading…]

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