Netanyahu and Biden
Netanyahu and BidenAvi Ohayon/GPO

The Biden administration gave Israel until mid-March to sign a letter that provides assurances that it will abide by international law while using US weapons and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, three US and Israeli officials told Axios on Tuesday.

The assurances are now a requirement under a memorandum issued earlier this month by President Joe Biden. While it does not single out Israel, the new policy came after some Democratic senators expressed concern over the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. If the assurances aren't provided by the deadline, US weapon transfers to the country will be paused.

According to Axios, the national security memorandum, published on February 8, states that prior to supplying US weapons, a country must give the US "credible and reliable written assurances" that it will use any such weapons in accordance with international humanitarian law.

It also stresses that a country that uses US weapons in conflict areas needs to provide "credible and reliable written assurances" that it will "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."

Countries engaged in conflicts, like Israel, have 45 days from the day the memo was issued to provide the written assurances and have them certified by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Other countries have 180 days.

The memorandum was issued by the White House after pressure from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other senators who wanted to add these requirements as an amendment to the Senate supplemental funding bill.

Three US officials told Axios on Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the White House he was concerned that such an amendment would divide the Democratic caucus in the Senate and asked to take executive action instead.

A senior Israeli official said the US request was to have the written assurances by mid-March so that Blinken can certify them by the end of the month. Israel can decide who in the government will sign the letter.

A State Department official said in response, "We continue to implement National Security Memorandum-20, including having discussions with our security cooperation partners around the world."

The Israeli Defense Ministry declined to comment.