Biden Administration Advances $1 Billion Arms Sale to Israel

Biden Administration Advances $1 Billion Arms Sale to Israel

The Biden administration has told Congress it wants to move forward with a plan for the United States to sell more than $1 billion worth of new weapons to Israel, according to three congressional aides familiar with the deal.

Notification of the sale, which would include new tactical vehicles and ammunition, comes as President Biden has withheld a shipment of bombs to Israel in hopes of preventing the use of U.S.-made weapons in a possible invasion of the southern Gaza town of Rafah to prevent. Last week, Mr Biden said he would block the delivery of weapons such as bombs and rockets that could be fired into the densely populated area where more than a million Palestinians are seeking refuge.

The possible arms transfer highlighted the narrow path the Biden administration is treading with Israel, trying to prevent an attack on Rafah and limit civilian casualties in Gaza but continuing to supply a longtime ally that the president has said he has the right to defend himself. A congressman said Congress had been aware of the arms deal for months and suggested the administration was simply waiting for the passage of a foreign aid package with more aid to Israel before moving forward with the required notification process to Congress.

When asked about the package, previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, the State Department pointed to recent comments from Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, and noted the ongoing commitment to provide military assistance to Israel to defend against threats to the region.

“The president was clear that he would not provide certain offensive weapons for such an operation if it were to take place,” Sullivan said. “It hasn’t happened yet. And we are still working with Israel on a better way to ensure the defeat of Hamas everywhere in Gaza, including in Rafah.”

The government is pushing for a ceasefire deal in which Hamas releases at least some of the hostages it took on Oct. 7 when it attacked Israel and started the war. But Qatar’s prime minister, a key player in the talks, said Tuesday that they were “almost in a stalemate.”

After the Oct. 7 attack that killed an estimated 1,200 people, Mr. Biden initially welcomed Israel but became increasingly conflicted about its warfare, which has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there.

But even as he made his threat to withhold additional weapons last week, he made it clear that the United States would provide weapons to ensure the security of its ally, including for its Iron Dome missile defense system and its “ability to respond to attacks.” react”. the one Iran launched in April.

The State Department’s informal notification of the arms transfer to the required congressional committees begins a multi-step process for senior foreign policy officials to informally review and privately discuss the terms of the arms transfer with the Department. The full Congress will then consider the package.

Edward Wong contributed reporting.

Source link

2024-05-15 02:56:32