Saturday, April 20, 2024

White House mulling to approve $18 billion deal to send F-15 jets to Israel

The administration of US President Joe Biden is close to approving the sale of as many as 50 American-made F-15 fighter jets to Israel, in a deal expected to be worth more than $18 billion, three people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The transaction, which would amount to the largest US foreign military sale to Israel since October 7, comes as the administration is also expected to notify Congress soon of a large new sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel, the people said.

The new sales of some of the US’ most sophisticated weaponry underscore the extent to which the US continues to support Israel militarily, even as Biden administration officials criticize Israel’s operations in Gaza, which have killed more than 32,800 Palestinians since October, according to the Gaza Ministry of health.

The sale is likely to be hotly debated in Congress, particularly by members of the president’s party. US weapons sales to Israel have come under intense scrutiny in recent months and Democratic lawmakers have called for restricting military aid to Israel until it allows more humanitarian aid into Gaza and does more to protect civilians there.

Politico first reported The US government is considering selling Israel up to 50 new F-15 fighter jets, 30 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, as well as Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, equipment that can alter dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons.

A House Foreign Affairs Committee aide later confirmed to The Hill that the administration informally notified the relevant congressional panels of the sale.

The sale, which is still pending US government approval, comes as there are growing calls for President Biden to withhold arms for Israel if it won’t take actions to limit civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.

Many, including those within Biden’s own party, have also argued that the commander in chief should refuse to give Israel weapons should it launch a large-scale invasion into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. More than 1 million Palestinian civilians are sheltering there after being driven from northern parts of the territory due to fighting.

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