April 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Blinken Reverses Plan to Sanction IDF Battalion 

April 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Blinken Reverses Plan to Sanction IDF Battalion 

Latest Developments 

The U.S. State Department on April 26 froze a plan to impose sanctions on the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) Netzah Yehuda battalion in light of “new information” provided by Jerusalem. On April 19, Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated the Biden administration’s unprecedented intent to sanction Netzah Yehuda for alleged human rights violations in the West Bank, blocking the unit from receiving U.S. military aid or training. State Department officials reportedly had recommended the sanctions, which are based on a 1997 law that prohibits security forces engaged in human rights abuses from receiving U.S. foreign assistance or training. 

Expert Analysis 

“The United States plays with fire when it sanctions our allies’ military units. It opens the door for other countries to sanction U.S. military units, and it is a finger in the eye of those allies, like Israel, that have their own independent judiciaries and systems of military justice. Is the Biden administration now claiming that Israel’s judiciary is pro-Netanyahu, after spending months in 2023 making the case that the independence of Israel’s judiciary and the hundreds of thousands of Israelis then on streets are to be defended against government interference?” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO 

“The campaign to impose sanctions on the IDF was cooked up by radical groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction —  at least one with ties to members of a designated terrorist organization — and once Congress started threatening to subpoena State Department documents and communications, Secretary Blinken backed down. The Biden administration needs to cut ties with these extremist groups and end its political warfare against a democratic ally still fighting a war for its survival.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor 

Blinken Under Pressure from Israeli and U.S. Officials 

On April 20, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was pushing back against the expected sanctions in conversations with American officials. “At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose sanctions on an IDF unit is the height of absurdity and a moral low,” Netanyahu wrote on X. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that Netzah Yehuda’s “activities are carried out in accordance with the values of the IDF and in accordance with international law,” and that “any event that deviates from the aforementioned standards is addressed accordingly” in Israel. “Damage done to one battalion affects the entire defense establishment,” Gallant said. “This is not the right path for partners and friends.” In Washington, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew likewise opposed the move. 

U.S. Assistance to Israel 

The House of Representatives passed a package of four national security bills on April 20, including security funding for Israel. The funding for Israel includes $5.2 billion for air defense systems, $8.9 billion in weapons systems and munitions, and $2.4 billion for U.S. operations against Iran-backed threats in the region. Additionally, the bill provides security funding to Ukraine and Taiwan, and includes bipartisan provisions targeting Iran’s oil trade, its senior leadership and their assets.  

Israeli Forces Kill 14 Terrorists in West Bank Raid,” FDD Flash Brief 

Hamas Urges End to U.S. Security Assistance to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief 

U.S. Legislators Move to Sanction Iranian Leaders, Oil Trade,” FDD Flash Brief 


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