December 8, 2023

J Street welcomes Senator Chris Van Hollen’s announcement that he and twelve of his colleagues will introduce an amendment to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill to ensure that any additional military assistance provided under the legislation will comply with international law and existing US law. J Street will be lobbying in support of this amendment’s inclusion in the supplemental, as part of our advocacy in support of security assistance to Israel, and urges all Senators to cosponsor it.

Senator Van Hollen’s amendment reasonably requires steps to address serious strategic, ethical and legal concerns with the manner in which Israel is carrying out its military campaign in Gaza, by clarifying and enhancing transparency around the enforcement of already existing law and standards to which the United States and Israel have long voluntarily bound themselves. The amendment does this in three main ways:

  1. States clearly that as a matter of US law, all US defense articles provided under the bill must be used in accordance with relevant international and US law;
  2. Aids enforcement of the existing requirement under US law that military assistance (excluding air defense systems like Iron Dome) not be sent to a foreign country that is blocking or restricting delivery of US humanitarian aid by requiring the administration to first secure assurances from all recipients of military assistance under the bill that they will fully cooperate with US and US-backed international aid efforts; and
  3. Requires a report on specific details of how the administration is enforcing and plans to enforce existing US law limiting the use of US-origin defense articles to expressly permitted purposes.

Lawmakers who believe that US law should be enforced should support this amendment. It imposes no unique standards, or new constraints on action, on any country. Instead, it helps ensure that US funding for the defense of our allies and partners are actually used for those legitimate purposes, rather than diverted or abused in ways which undermine their own security, the safety of civilians in conflict, US national security interests, and international order.