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Prez Joe Biden order attaches human rights conditions to US military aid for Israel

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Washington, Feb 10: A new directive by President Joe Biden appeared to ease a split among Democrats over his military support for Israel’s war in Gaza, with lawmakers on Friday praising the order authorising a swift cutoff of military aid to countries that violate international protections of civilians. For Biden, the commitment to conditioning U.S. military aid for Israel and other allies and strategic partners will help him shore up support among center-left Senate Democrats for his proposed $95 billion supplemental assistance package, which is aimed primarily at military aid for Ukraine in its war with Russia and for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.
Democratic senators on Friday called Biden’s directive – meant to bring breadth, oversight, deadlines and teeth to efforts to ensure foreign governments don’t use U.S. military aid against civilians – historic.
“This is a sea-change in terms of how you approach U.S. military aid and its impact on civilians,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. She spoke at a Capitol news conference with other Democrats who’d negotiated with the White House for two months on the matter, in an effort led by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Human rights advocates said the challenge for the new directive would be the same faced by all previous efforts to withhold U.S. weapons and funding from human rights abusers – whether administrations will actually enforce the human rights conditions against strategically important allies and partners. “The issue was never in knowledge” of US military aid being used in violation of international law “so much as enforcement,” said Kenneth Roth, a former head of Human Rights Watch and a visiting professor at Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
The new order comes in what’s officially known as a presidential memorandum. Those have the force of law, although succeeding presidents can overturn them.
Biden’s order has immediate effect. It gives Secretary of State Antony Blinken 45 days to obtain “credible and reliable written assurances” from foreign recipients of U.S. military aid that are in active conflicts, which includes Israel and Ukraine, that they are using U.S. military assistance in compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law and other standards.
Texas woman sentenced to 3 years in prison
A Texas woman was sentenced Friday to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of threatening a Florida judge who is overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents.
Tiffani Gish, 50, of Houston, pleaded guilty in November to threatening U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon. The Justice Department said Gish left voicemails threatening to kill the judge while claiming to be a member of several military combat units. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. “Holding Tiffani Gish accountable for her threats to assassinate a federal judge sends a strong message that we have no tolerance for those – who often hide behind a far-off keyboard or phone line – seeking to undermine our democratic institutions by threatening the safety of the people who help those same institutions thrive,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani said in a statement. Heather Hughes, a federal public defender representing Gish, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Friday. (AP)

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