Photo Credit: Air Force Airmen Edgar Grimaldo
Airmen assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, offload cargo to the Israeli military at Nevatim Base, Israel, Oct. 15, 2023.

On February 8, the White House issued a National Security Memorandum on Safeguards and Accountability with Respect to Transferred Defense Articles and Defense Services, which, among other things, “prevents arms transfers that risk facilitating or otherwise contributing to violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.”

The lengthy memorandum did not mention Israel by name, but you could see the white and blue emanating from every line, mostly because there’s nothing new in the text itself, the only new thing is the timing, adjacent to the numerous planeloads of weapons and ammunition that have been landing in Israel since October 7, 2023. The White House released the memorandum following pressure from Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and other senators, who sought to incorporate these stipulations as an amendment to the Senate supplemental funding bill.


According to Barak Ravid in Axios, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) conveyed his apprehension to the White House regarding the potential division within the Democratic caucus in the Senate over such an amendment and proposed pursuing executive action instead.

Sen. Van Hollen, for his part, told Axios, “Myself and the co-sponsors of the amendment made it clear to Majority Leader Schumer that we are determined to have a vote if we don’t succeed in implementing it through executive action.”

It worked. According to Axios, citing three US and Israeli officials, the Biden administration on Tuesday set a deadline until mid-March for Israel to sign a letter, dictated by the US, pledging adherence to international law in the use of US weapons and facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

And a satisfied Van Hollen stated, “We did it to make sure we have an accountability structure and that US security assistance aligns with both our values and our interests.”

The problem here is not the lengthy memorandum – Israel should have no trouble committing to the required principles. The problem starts with the definition of “International law.” Is international law the Geneva Convention? Is it the UN Security Council resolutions? Would the IDF using American-made weapons in the “occupied territories” constitute a violation of international law? What about a security coordinator of a Jewish settlement firing his weapon at invading Arabs? Remember, the Biden administration has just reversed President Trump’s policy on the settlements, making them illegal again.

The amorphic use of “violations of human rights or international humanitarian law” is intended to be so. It provides the US with a plethora of potential reasons to tug on Israel’s tail. In short, the memorandum and its consequent patronizing demand for Israel’s consent is not the end goal – it’s the means for an unending lineup of new demands and pressures.

There is no way out of this nasty setup for Netanyahu and for Israel, as long as the country is unified in its objection to the imposition of the two-state solution – because this is what the move is all about. Last week, the Biden administration realized, perhaps for the first time, that it’s not a question of Bibi vs. someone who would do their bidding on this front. An astonishing 99 MKs supported a resolution rejecting the unilateral enforcement of a Palestinian State.

The Americans have taken the gloves off, not against Netanyahu, but against the State of Israel.


Previous articleIs It Proper (Or Wise) To Try To Counter The Anti-Orthodox Messaging Of Individuals Who Left The Fold And Now Publicly Repudiate The Frum Community?
Next articleThe People’s Talmud Presents: Daf Yomi Brain Teasers: Baba Kama 118
David writes news at