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Rubio: ‘Unsettling’ that foreign courts can block US arms shipment to allies amid war

The Florida senator wrote to the defense secretary after a Dutch court decision threatened to halt delivery of U.S.-owned F-35 parts to Israel.

Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland, March 6, 2014. Credit: Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock.
Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland, March 6, 2014. Credit: Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock.

Washington must prevent foreign courts and activists from vetoing U.S. national security and military decisions, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary.

The senator’s Feb. 27 letter comes more than two weeks after a Dutch appeals court ruled that U.S.-owned parts warehoused in the Netherlands for F-35 jets couldn’t ship to Israel, which it alleged would use them in “serious violations of international humanitarian law” in the war against Hamas.

“The court case is the latest attempt by anti-Israel pressure groups to prevent Israel from continuing its justified military campaign to destroy Hamas and other terrorist groups responsible for the Oct. 7, 2023, massacres,” Rubio wrote.

“The Dutch government, a strong U.S. ally, is doing what it can to reverse this damaging decision by The Hague Court of Appeal. However, there is no guarantee it will succeed,” the senator added. “It is unsettling that foreign courts, pressured by foreign activists, could have the power to block shipments of U.S.-owned military components to an ally during wartime.”

The Pentagon must also stop foreign actors preventing Israel from “conducting operations against a group the secretary of state designates as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” Rubio wrote.

The court’s decision “could endanger the national security of the United States and our ally, Israel. It also threatens to set a dangerous precedent for foreign activists and courts to stymie U.S. and allied military operations through ‘lawfare,’” the senator added.

On Feb. 26, the Pentagon announced an $11.2 million contract for Lockheed Martin related to “Mission Systems Test Capability systems in support of enabling multi-ship F-35 testing with a single F-35 in a ground-test environment.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the sale of F-35 jets to Greece during a Feb. 9 event with Giorgos Gerapetritis, the Greek foreign minister.

“We further develop our defense capabilities with the upcoming acquisition of up to 40 F-35 jets, which reflects the depth of our mutual relations,” Gerapetritis said. “In light of the above, I daresay that the United States and Greece complement each other, doing everything in their power to contribute to regional and global stability.”

The United States is giving “unprecedented surge support to F-35 users in Israel,” Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer of the American military’s 35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, testified before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Armed Services Committee on Dec. 12.

“Since early October, the F-35 Program has delivered surge support to Israel. Israeli users are achieving exceptional mission capability rates and the aircraft is proving resilient,” Schmidt said. “We’re learning a tremendous amount and will apply lessons learned to enhance fleet readiness across the globe.

“The F-35 air system has proven its capability and supply chain resilience in recent months in Israel, and I remain confident in our global sustainment capability,” he added.

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