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Biden memo lays out standards for countries receiving US weapons

(NewsNation) —After coming out with his sharpest criticism of Israel yet, President Joe Biden issued a memo that lays out standards countries must adhere to if they are going to receive weapons from the United States.

NewsNation learned from a senior Biden administration official that the president released a “National Security Memorandum” Thursday after discussions with members of Congress.

While the memo does not set up any new standards for those receiving U.S. weapons, it does, for the first time, require the Biden administration to submit an annual report to Congress about whether countries are meeting the requirements outlined.

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The senior administration official emphasized this memo was not issued because they think any countries are violating these standards.

“If we did, you’d have heard it about long ago — and seen the consequences,” the official said. Instead, they say, this “is an opportunity to be transparent with the American public” about the standards and how “we go about obtaining assurances that they’ll be met.”

This comes amid criticism from some Democratic lawmakers about the way Israel is using the weapons the United States is sending.

Biden himself admonished Israel in his strongest terms yet Thursday, NewsNation partner The Hill reported.

“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza Strip has been over the top,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza… There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying. And it’s got to stop.”

In recent months, Biden has also urged Israel to be more targeted in its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

According to the Associated Press, at least 27,840 Palestinians have died in Israel’s military offensive, and a quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving.

Israel declared war after Hamas’ attack on the country Oct. 7, during which militants killed 1,200 people and abducted around 250. More than 130 are still held by Hamas, but around 30 are believed to be dead.

About half of the 2.3 million in Gaza’s population have been displaced, with many living in makeshift tent camps or overflowing United Nations-run shelters.

A Palestinian child walks past factories destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Deir al Balah on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Federal government officials are making a concerted effort to achieve a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of hostages and more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found about half of U.S. adults also say Israel has gone too far. While the poll still showed broad support for Israel, 50% of those asked now believe Israel’s military offensive has gone beyond what it should have, compared to 40% in November.

On Thursday, Senators started the process of voting on a $95 billion foreign aid package which includes $14 billion for Israel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.