• Press Release

Biden Administration Must Uphold Human Rights for Palestinians in Israel and in the OPT

February 1, 2022

Photo by KAY NIETFELD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
In response to yesterday and today’s comments from U.S. State Department officials on U.S. relations with Israeli and Palestinian authorities, Paul O’Brien, Executive Director at Amnesty International USA said: 

“Amnesty International USA appreciates the State Department’s attention to our report in yesterday’s press briefing. We also applaud continued commitments from Secretary Blinken towards improving ‘quality of life for the Palestinian people in tangible ways’ and agree with his statement that ‘Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity.’ We look forward to having meaningful conversations with the administration about our research and, more broadly, about human rights. 

“​We also urge the Biden administration to consider the role of the U.S. government in bringing an end to the Israeli government’s ongoing human rights violations. Specifically, we ask that the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, and Government Accountability Offices investigate and issue a public report on the credible evidence of Israeli forces’ use of U.S.-made weapons, security aid, and Israeli arms bought with U.S. funds to commit grave human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

“The Biden administration has repeatedly committed to center human rights and stand for ‘a world in which human rights are protected’ and rights abusers ‘are held accountable.’ The United States must apply that standard everywhere, equally — and not make exceptions for allies.” 

Notes to the Editor:

22 U.S. Code § 8213 requires the President and the State Department document and act to ensure “any responsible government” and officials are “brought to account” for crimes against humanity “in an appropriately constituted tribunal.” 

U.S. policies also discriminatorily bar economic aid if the Palestinian Authority (PA) backs International Criminal Court investigations scrutinizing “Israeli nationals” in its investigation into the situation. These policies harm Palestinian civilians for the sole purpose of wrongfully blocking accountability. No such measure is imposed on Israeli authorities were they to support international accountability mechanisms.

Credible evidence shows Israeli forces’ use of U.S. arms in violations and war crimes. Israeli forces have deliberately targeted medics, journalists, civilians, activists, and public infrastructure during protests and in air strikes in Gaza. Yet over $3.3 billion in U.S. military aid flows yearly to Israeli forces without human rights conditions. This clearly violates the long-standing Leahy Laws and Foreign Assistance Act, both of which prohibit security assistance and arms transfers to gross human rights violators, let alone those who use U.S. munitions to abuse human rights.

Apartheid was first codified as a violation of international human rights law in 1965 with the adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which the U.S. ratified in 1994 and Israel ratified in 1979. Governments of both countries are bound by obligations to protect and promote equality and non-discrimination in the enjoyment of human rights. The Convention requires both the U.S. and Israel to dismantle this system of apartheid.

Contact: Vanessa Parra, [email protected]