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Rep. Barr to Blinken: Don't accuse Israel of breaking international law in Gaza

David Catanese, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken says it’s reasonable to believe that Israeli security forces breached international law in executing a ruthless seven-month campaign against Hamas in Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians.

But Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr says the Biden administration shouldn’t say so.

“We need to come to their defense and not accuse them of violating international law,” Barr told Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.

It’s a demonstration of how fervently committed Barr is to the Israeli cause in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks, even as a younger generation clamorously aligns with the Palestinians.

“There’s nothing surprising about this. For most members of Congress, unconditional support for Israel is the ‘smart’ political choice, even if doing so undermines U.S. interests,” said Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international affairs and author of the book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.”

“Treating Israel like a normal country will just get them in hot water at home and encourage AIPAC and groups in the Israel lobby to back opposition candidates,” Walt continued. “So Israel is free to do whatever it wants.”

 

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee contributed $19,100 to Barr during the 2022 campaign cycle, according to Open Secrets.

A State Department report released earlier this month found certain instances where Israel used U.S. weapons to act outside of international humanitarian law, citing the high civilian casualty count in Gaza.

Barr believes Blinken’s words may have contributed to the International Criminal Court’s decision to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a decision that Republicans have roundly panned as outrageous and President Joe Biden himself has rejected. The ICC is also seeking to prosecute leaders of Hamas.

“There’s no equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” the president has declared. “Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court… what’s happening is not genocide.”

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©2024 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Visit at mcclatchydc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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