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Blinken denies US human rights 'double standard' for Israel

Courtney McBride, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is examining allegations of human rights and international law violations in Gaza — by both Israel and Hamas — and will not apply a double standard, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Washington on Monday.

“Do we have a double standard? The answer is no,” Blinken said in response to questions about the Biden administration’s handling of allegations of abuses by Israeli forces in Gaza, compared with those attributed to Hamas.

The top US diplomat’s comments follow criticism that the administration isn’t putting enough pressure on Israel to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where Israeli forces are seeking to defeat Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack. He also spoke as reports emerged that the administration is planning to sanction an Israeli ultra-Orthodox army battalion over human rights abuses in the West Bank.

Blinken said the administration was engaged in a “very deliberate” process of assessing Israel’s actions under the so-called “Leahy law” provisions barring the U.S. government from providing assistance to foreign security forces that engage in gross violations of human rights. He declined to provide a timeline for a formal assessment, but added that “we will have more to say” within days.

“We are looking into reports — incidents that are brought to our attention, and we have a process to do that,” Blinken said. “Particularly if there are questions about whether U.S. arms have been involved. And that is ongoing. We continue to be focused on that.”

Blinken spoke Monday as the State Department released its 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which he called “a factual, systematic account of human rights records” around the world. The document contains a section on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.


“We apply the same standard to everyone,” Blinken said. “And that doesn’t change whether the country in question is an adversary, a competitor, a friend or an ally.”

The secretary said the administration would make its own determinations regarding potential violations in Gaza, and also touted Israel’s ability to examine its own actions, pointing to “many open investigations based on reports that have come forward with allegations about abuses of human rights or abuse of international humanitarian law, laws of war, et cetera.”

Democracies have a responsibility to police themselves and to uphold the same standards they demand of others, he added.

“We have to do our best to collect the facts and follow the facts, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.


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