March 22, 2024

Van Hollen, Durbin, Kaine, Schatz, Colleagues Tell Biden Administration that Deeming Netanyahu Government Assurances on Humanitarian Aid “Credible” at this Time Would be Inconsistent with NSM-20

17 Senators Press Administration Prior to March 24th Deadline

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement calling on the Administration to find that the Netanyahu Government’s assurances regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza do not meet the “credible and reliable” test required by National Security Memorandum (NSM)-20. NSM-20 requires that the recipient country “facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States Government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.” Under NSM-20, the Biden Administration is required to obtain “credible and reliable” written assurances for any country receiving U.S. weapons in active armed conflict, including the Government of Israel, by this Sunday, March 24.

“Security assistance provided by the U.S. should be used to advance our interests and values. That’s why we worked together to introduce an amendment to the National Security Act earlier this year to better achieve that goal. We applauded the President’s decision to issue National Security Memorandum-20 to establish a global policy and accountability mechanism in line with our amendment. But now it’s time to put it to the test.

“We have repeatedly affirmed Israel’s right, indeed its duty, to defend itself in the aftermath of the horrific Hamas massacres of October 7th, and we continue to prioritize the release of all hostages. We must also address the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. Recent U.S. airdrops and the construction of a temporary port are clearly not an example of the Netanyahu Government’s facilitation of aid into Gaza; indeed, as President Biden has acknowledged, they are symptoms of the bigger problem: the continued excessively burdensome restrictions erected by the Netanyahu Government on the flow of aid from land crossings into Gaza and within Gaza. Therefore, we urge the Biden Administration to adhere to the plain meaning and intent of NSM-20 and use this tool to secure the necessary delivery of aid into and throughout Gaza thereby bringing the Netanyahu Government into compliance with its terms. 

“NSM 20-requires, for the first time, that countries receiving U.S. security assistance provide ‘credible and reliable written assurances’ that the recipient country ‘facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery’ of U.S. and U.S.-supported humanitarian assistance. The current circumstances on the ground in Gaza, the many statements made by the President and other senior Administration officials, and the recent IPC assessment that ‘famine is imminent’ – make it abundantly clear that Netanyahu’s government is not doing nearly enough to allow aid to reach starving and otherwise desperate people in Gaza. As a result, we believe it would be inconsistent with the letter and spirit of NSM-20 to find that assurances made by the Netanyahu Government meet the required ‘credible and reliable’ standard at this time. Such a determination would also establish an unacceptable precedent for the application of NSM-20 in other situations around the world.”