Biden genocide case goes before appeals court as Palestinians fight to end flow of weapons to Israel

San Francisco, California - A historic case accusing President Joe Biden and his administration of aiding and abetting a genocide committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza went before a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Monday.

A case accusing the Biden administration of aiding and abetting an Israeli genocide in Gaza went before an appeals court on Monday (file photo).
A case accusing the Biden administration of aiding and abetting an Israeli genocide in Gaza went before an appeals court on Monday (file photo).  © IMAGO / ZUMA Press Wire

Arguing on behalf of Defense of Children International-Palestine, as well as Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans who have lost family members in Israel's brutal assault, the Center for Constitutional Rights' Katherine Gallagher asked a panel of three judges to stop the flow of US weapons used to kill Gaza civilians in their tens of thousands.

With over 37,000 dead, famine setting in, and conditions of life being plunged to intolerable depths, there is a that Israel may be committing genocide in the territory it has besieged for some 17 years. The complaint accuses Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin of violating legal responsibilities under the 1948 Genocide Convention, of which the US is a signatory.

In an initial ruling, Judge Jeffrey White of the US District Court for the Northern District of California agreed with the plaintiffs, who gave heart-rending testimony in January, as well as their supporting experts, that "the ongoing military siege in Gaza is intended to eradicate a whole people and therefore plausibly falls within the international prohibition against genocide."

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Reluctantly however, he dismissed the suit on the basis that it asked the court to resolve a political matter reserved for the executive branch of the US government.

Since then, over 130 human rights organizations have come out to back the case.

Genocide should never be "a mere matter of policy"

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have protested the Biden administration's unflagging support for Israel as it kills tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have protested the Biden administration's unflagging support for Israel as it kills tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians.  © IMAGO / Pacific Press Agency

In the appellate hearing, Gallagher asked the court to refuse the implication "that it must stand aside, powerless, while the executive violates binding law, simply because the case involves foreign affairs."

She insisted that the case involves a matter of legal obligations, not political choices, and that established Supreme Court precedent supports that conclusion.

Under questioning from the judges, Gallagher clarified that the plaintiffs only sought to halt the supply of US weapons demonstrably proven to have contributed to the killing of civilians in Gaza.

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Represented by Justice Department attorney Maxwell Baldi, the Biden administration asked the court to reaffirm the previous ruling that US military support for Israel is at "the executive branch's discretion to conduct foreign policy," even in these circumstances. That, Gallagher responded, would be tantamount to saying "the executive is not bound by any law."

That, ultimately, is the crux of the matter, as Palestinian-American author and plaintiff Laila Elhaddad argued in The Nation.

Having suffered through the killing of four family members in Gaza, her contention, and that of the entire case, is that "breaking the law – and aiding and abetting genocide – cannot, and should never be, a mere matter of policy."

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Press Wire

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