For Many Western Allies, Sending Weapons to Israel Gets Dicey

For months, Western governments have provided military support for Israel while fending off accusations that their weapons were being used to commit war crimes in Gaza. But as a global outcry over the growing death toll in Gaza mounts, maintaining that balance is becoming increasingly difficult, as was clear on a single day this past week.

On Tuesday, in a United Nations court, Germany found itself having to defend against accusations that it was complicit in genocide against Palestinians in Gaza by exporting weapons to Israel.

A few hours later, in Washington, a top Democrat and Biden administration ally, Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, said he might block an $18 billion deal to sell F-15 fighter jets to Israel unless he was assured that Palestinian civilians would not be indiscriminately bombed.

And two miles away, at a media briefing at the State Department, Britain’s foreign minister, David Cameron, was pressed on what his government had concluded after weeks of internal review about whether Israel has breached international humanitarian law during its offensive in Gaza.

The governments of Germany and the United States remain the backbone of international military support for Israel, accounting for 98 percent of major weapons systems sent to Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global weapons trade. So far, the pressure has not swayed them or Britain, though President Biden this month went further than he ever had, threatening to condition future support for Israel on how it addresses his concerns about civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mr. Cameron also equivocated, if only a bit. After defending Israel at the briefing and suggesting that the recent advice he had received did not conclude that arms exports should be halted, he said that the British government’s position reflected only “the latest assessment” of the issue, implying some flexibility.

Back to top button