The Biden administration has bypassed Congress to send 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel.
The deal is needed, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken, because “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas, and we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas.”
The $106 million sale is only a fraction of the $14.3 billion the U.S. wants to send to Israel but can’t because Republicans are demanding changes to immigration rules and funds for border security as the price for aid to Israel, Ukraine, and other nations.
Joe Biden has indicated he’s willing to make substantial concessions to get Republicans to unblock the $106 billion aid package that the Senate will vote on perhaps as early as Wednesday.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” the State Department said in a statement. “Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”
The strongest sign yet that Biden is ready to make a deal favorable to Republicans comes from Senator Mitt Romney.
“We want to solve that, to secure the border. I just saw the president of the United States say that we’ve got to secure the border. He’s right. So, any effort that doesn’t do that will be rejected by Republicans,” Romney said.
The State Department has used the emergency provision at least two times since 2022 to rush arms to Ukraine for its defense against Russia’s invasion.
But in the case of the Israel-Gaza war, there has been growing condemnation in the United States and abroad of the way Israel is carrying out its offensive. The State Department’s decision to bypass Congress appeared to reflect an awareness of some Democratic lawmakers’ criticism of the Biden administration for supplying arms to Israel with no conditions or scrutiny.
Biden has a problem getting aid to Ukraine due to Republican concerns. And he’s about to have a problem from Democrats on aid to Israel. Thirteen Democratic senators are working on legislation that would “require greater evidence from nations receiving U.S. weapons that their militaries are not committing war crimes,” according to the Times.
“The combination of the United States’ veto of a cease-fire resolution in the U.N., and this expedited provision of lethal arms to Israel, should cause some serious consideration of whether the secretary’s repeated assertions that the U.S. seeks to minimize civilian casualties in Israel’s operation in Gaza are sincere,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official who worked on arms sales, referring to Mr. Blinken.
Paul resigned from the agency in October over U.S. weapons aid to Israel for its use in the Gaza war.