Blinken Denies US Double Standard in Applying War Crimes Law to Israel and Russia

US rejects double standard in probing war crimes by Israel vs Russia, but rights groups say US response to Israeli abuses is more lenient.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Blinken Denies US Double Standard in Applying War Crimes Law to Israel and Russia

Blinken Denies US Double Standard in Applying War Crimes Law to Israel and Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has rejected accusations that the United States applies a double standard when investigating allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses by Israel compared to other countries like Russia. In recent comments, Blinken stated that the US holds all nations to the same standards under international law, regardless of whether they are "adversaries, competitors, friends, or allies."

The remarks come amid growing criticism from rights advocates who argue that the Biden administration has been quick to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine as war crimes, while being more cautious and lenient in its response to alleged abuses by Israeli forces in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. The State Department's own 2023 human rights report on Israel cited numerous incidents of arbitrary killings, torture, and unjustified arrests by Israeli authorities, but noted that Israel took no visible steps to identify and punish officials accused of such violations.

Blinken acknowledged that the US has ongoing processes to examine potential breaches of international humanitarian law by Israel, including violations of the Leahy Law which prohibits providing military assistance to foreign units credibly implicated in rights abuses. However, he declined to give a timeline for when these investigations might yield definitive assessments or consequences for Israel.

Why this matters: The perception of a US double standard in holding allies like Israel accountable for human rights violations, compared to adversaries like Russia, risks undermining the credibility of US leadership on international law. Consistent application of war crimes statutes is seen as critical for the US to maintain moral authority on the global stage.

Rights groups continue to raise alarm over rising civilian casualties and harm in Gaza, as well as escalating violence by both Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank. Israel receives $3.8 billion in annual US military aid. "We apply the same standard to every country, to every situation, regardless of whether the country is an adversary, a competitor, a friend, or an ally," Blinken said, pushing back on accusations of an unfair double standard benefiting Israel despite the findings of the State Department's own human rights report.

Key Takeaways

  • Blinken rejects accusations of US double standard on war crimes probes.
  • US State Dept report cites Israeli abuses, but no visible steps to punish.
  • Ongoing US processes to examine Israeli violations, no timeline given.
  • Perception of double standard risks undermining US moral authority.
  • Israel receives $3.8B in annual US military aid despite human rights issues.