Apparently, someone at the White House was looking out the window last Saturday as protesters demanded an end to U.S. support for Israel’s offensive on Gaza. In an action that comes as Operation Protective Edge appears to be more or less over, Haaretz reports:
[A]gainst the backdrop of American displeasure over IDF tactics used in the Gaza fighting and the high number of civilian casualties caused by Israel’s massive use of artillery fire rather than more precise weapons, officials in the White House and the State Department are now demanding to review every Israeli request for American arms individually, rather than let them move relatively unchecked through a direct military-to-military channel, a fact that slows down the process.
According to a senior U.S. official, the decision to tighten oversight and require approval of higher-ranking officials over shipments, was intended to make clear to Israel that there is no “blank check” from Washington in regards to the U.S.-made weapons the IDF makes use of in its Gaza operations.
The United States is Israel’s strongest friend, a senior official in the Obama administration told the Wall Street Journal, but “[t]he notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”
The Jerusalem Post also quotes from the Wall Street Journal report that broke the story:
A senior Obama administration official was quoted in the report as saying the decision to scrutinize future transfers at the highest levels amounted to “the United States saying ‘The buck stops here. Wait a second…It’s not OK anymore.”
The report depicted a context of poor relations between Obama and Netanyahu and claimed that the decision to halt the weapons transfer was made at a point when the White House and State Department became “increasingly disturbed by what they saw as heavy-handed battlefield tactics that they believed risked a humanitarian catastrophe,” in Gaza.
Anticipating a backlash from hawkish pro-Israel groups, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched a petition asking signers to thank the Obama Administration for taking this significant step. However too little or too late the White Houses measure may come in the midst of Gaza’s suffering, the petition notes that “This is the first time that we know of that the Obama Administration has ever taken any action to curtail U.S. weapons deliveries to Israel.”