U.S. Arms Transfers to Israel, with Brian Finucane and Josh Paul

Last month, following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, President Biden announced that his administration would ask Congress for “an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense,” totaling $14.3 billion. Such a package would supplement the defense aid Israel already receives from the U.S. According to Jonathan Guyer in Vox, “Israel has received about $3 billion annually, adjusted for inflation, for the last 50 years, and is the largest historical recipient of US security aid.” 

But with civilian casualties in Gaza mounting, including the reported killing of thousands of Palestinian children, likely with weapons of U.S. origin, a recent article in Foreign Affairs by Brian Finucane asks, “Is Washington Responsible for What Israel Does With American Weapons?” 

To talk through that essay, Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Brian, a Senior Adviser at the International Crisis Group and former attorney adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department, as well as Josh Paul, a former Director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which oversees U.S. arms transfers, who resigned in protest over the U.S. government’s provision of weapons to Israel for use in the conflict in Gaza. They discussed the scale and process of U.S. weapons transfers, the domestic and international law that govern these transfers, and whether the U.S. is complicit and liable for war crimes committed with its weaponry. They also discussed why it would be a mistake to rely solely on the law of war to bring an end to the death and destruction in Gaza.

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