Blinken, Sanders and Graham offer differing takes on latest State Dept. report on Israel's possible humanitarian violations in Gaza

Secretary of State Antony Blinken insists on equal accountability for Israel amid reports of humanitarian crimes.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (CBS)

In the wake of a new report suggesting that Israel may have violated international humanitarian law during military operations in Gaza, high-profile guests appeared on Sunday morning shows to share their views on the subject.

The 46-page report, released on Friday by the State Department, also found that it is impossible to verify whether or not U.S.-supplied weapons were used by Israel in Gaza in actions that may have violated international human rights law. Since the Oct. 7 attacks, which left an estimated 1,200 dead in Israel, nearly 35,000 Palestinians and more than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the ongoing war, according to multiple reports.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that the U.S. doesn’t apply “double standards” to Israel in holding the country accountable for possible humanitarian crimes. He later told CBS’s Face the Nation that it’s “very difficult” to draw any final conclusions about whether or not Israel used U.S.-supplied weapons during its attacks on Gaza.

Meanwhile, in separate interviews with Meet the Press, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, compared the consequences of the Israel-Hamas war to that of World War II while Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders proclaimed that Israel “should not be receiving another nickel in military aid.”

Here are some key takeaways from their interviews.

Blinken insisted that the U.S. treats Israel with the same accountability as any other country when it comes to humanitarian crimes, noting that the U.S. and Israel currently have “hundreds” of open investigations looking into particular incidents.

“Israel has both the means and the will to try and police itself,” Blinken told Meet the Press host Kristen Welker. “But our own process that has been underway for many months to look at individual incidents — that will continue as well.”

Blinken later defended Biden’s decision to delay bomb shipments to Israel if it attacks Rafah in southern Gaza.

“If Israel launches this major military operation to Rafah, then there's certain systems that we're not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation,” he told Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan. “But at present, the only thing that we've delayed and are holding back are these high payload bombs.”

Echoing the newly released report, Blinken said, "It's reasonable to assess that in a number of instances, Israel has not acted in a manner that is consistent with international humanitarian law."

He added that the U.S. is in “active conversation” with Israel about whether or not those weapons will indeed be delivered.

“We believe two things,” Blinken said. “One, you have to have a clear, credible plan to protect civilians, which we haven't seen. Second, we also need to see a plan for what happens after this conflict in Gaza is over. And we still haven't seen that.”

On Meet the Press, Sanders advocated for the U.S. to pause all military aid to Israel as a means to an end.

“[Israel] has not just gone to war against Hamas; it’s gone to war against the entire Palestinian people and the results have been absolutely catastrophic,” Sanders told Welker. “According to humanitarian organizations, we’re looking at the likelihood of hundreds of thousands of children facing starvation.”

Graham took a different approach when pressed by Welker about Biden’s decision to delay bomb shipments from Israel, calling it the “worst decision in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

“Give Israel the bombs they need to end the war they can’t afford to lose and work with them to minimize casualties,” said Graham. “When you’re telling the world you’re going to restrict weapons delivery to the Jewish state, who’s fighting a war for their survival, it emboldens Iran, it emboldens Hamas.”

Welker asked Sanders about recent statements he made calling the Israel-Hamas war “Biden’s Vietnam,” criticizing the president for supplying Israel with weapons.

“I think there’s a lot of people in the Democratic base who are concerned about his support for Israel in this war,” Sanders said without answering the question directly. He then defended Biden’s choice to potentially withhold more aid: “I certainly support the president saying that it’s absurd to provide Israel with two thousand-pound bombs which could level an entire square block in the midst of Rafah, which is an incredibly densely populated area.”

Later on Meet the Press, Graham told Welker that former President Donald Trump will be a stronger ally to Israel than Biden is.

“President Trump is poised to win,” Graham said. “He said last night when it comes to Israel, ‘I will have their back.’ ‘I will give them what they need.’”

On May 9, Trump spoke about Biden’s decision to withhold military aid to Israel in an interview with North Carolina’s Spectrum News 1.

“There’s been no president [that] has ever done anything close to what I've done for Israel,” he said, later adding: “I wouldn't do what Biden did. He just abandoned Israel. I've never seen anything like it.”