Biden places new restrictions on U.S. military aid

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The White House issued a memorandum Thursday evening requiring countries that receive weapons from the U.S. to abide by international humanitarian laws and allow humanitarian aid to reach war zones. Violators who do not sign the pledge could lose U.S. military support.

Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre defended the president’s action and says the pledge does not change U.S. support for Israel.

“The president has been very clear, he wants to see Hamas, a terrorist organization defeated,” says Jean Pierre. “We want to also ensure we’re protecting innocent civilians.

The memorandum was announced as the president delivered his sharpest criticism of Israel’s military campaign. Thursday night he described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “over the top.” He told reporters he’s working to alleviate the humanitarian crisis growing on the ground.

“A lot of innocent people are in trouble and dying” says Biden, “And it’s got to stop.”

Senate Democrats who’ve been pushing for similar requirements for U.S. military aid applauded the president’s action.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) who led an effort to try and tie aid conditions to a pending foreign aid package called the memorandum was “a big deal.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) one of 18 co-sponsors says the executive action promotes basic transparency and accountability.

“U.S. military aid cannot be a blank check” for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing government,” says Warren. 

The memorandum comes following months of international outcry over the humanitarian crisis growing inside the Gaza strip. Roughly 28,00 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war and the World Health Organization reports nearly a quarter of the population faces starvation.

Van Hollen says the language will require countries to regularly report back to the U.S. to prove they are in compliance.

“The first report which is due in 90 days for those countries engaged in armed conflict has to include reporting from January of last year”, says Van Hollen.

Israel’s government has not issued a response to the White House’s announcement.

Early Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared troops to invade a densely populated area inside Gaza.

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