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Kaine Statement on Biden Administration Withholding Offensive Weapons Transfer to Israel

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement regarding reports that the Biden Administration has paused an offensive weapons transfer to Israel:

“For months, I have strongly urged the Biden Administration to prioritize Israel’s defensive needs, including restocking the Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems—which are especially critical after the Iranian attack on Israel on April 14—rather than offensive weapons that could cause enormous suffering in Gaza and further escalate tensions across the region. I was pleased to see that certain offensive arms deliveries have since been paused and encourage the Administration to continue to be wary of transferring weapons that could be used in offensive military actions that result in significant civilian casualties. I also welcome the Administration’s redoubled efforts to secure a hostage deal and ceasefire in Gaza, which is the only path forward toward a sustainable resolution to this crisis. I expect the Administration to soon deliver to Congress its report pursuant to National Security Memorandum 20, which will include assessments of whether Israel has used U.S.-funded weapons in compliance with international law or whether Israel has impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Kaine has repeatedly reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas following Hamas’ horrific October 7 terrorist attacks and Iran’s strikes on Israeli soil, and the need to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and secure a deal to release hostages and establish a ceasefire in Gaza. In February, following reports of a pending major weapons transfer from the U.S. to Israel, Kaine called on the Administration to ensure that any further arms transfers to Israel be comprised primarily of defensive weapons.

Also in February, following a push by Kaine and his colleagues, the Biden Administration announced National Security Memorandum 20 (NSM-20) to reinforce that all U.S. security assistance must be used in line with international law, including international humanitarian law. NSM-20 requires the State Department and Defense Department to send a report to Congress within 90 days on the use of U.S. weapons in areas of armed conflict since January 2023 and subsequent reports annually thereafter. That report was expected today, but has been delayed. In March, Kaine and his colleagues told the Biden Administration that deeming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initial assurances on the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza as “credible” would be inconsistent with NSM-20.

Last December, Kaine raised concerns over the Biden Administration’s decision to transfer weapons to Israel without congressional oversight.