Sunday, May 19, 2024

White House begins lengthy process to approve $1bn arms for Israel

The administration of US President Joe Biden has started the early stages of a process to move ahead with a new $1 billion weapons shipment for Israel, according to two congressional sources.

The State Department has now opened discussions with the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees about the possible sale. There is no set timeline for when Congress would officially be notified of the sale, setting into motion a clock for its approval.

The potential sale would include the potential transfer of $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds, one of the congressional sources stated.

The weapons under discussion would not arrive in Israel imminently. The sale would still need to be officially notified to Congress and receive congressional approval, which could take years.

The decision to get the wheels in motion for this new weapons deal comes as the Biden administration has paused the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs and 500-pound bombs to Israel, citing opposition to the weapons being used in the densely populated areas of Rafah.

While US officials have said that other cases of weapons shipments to Israel would be under review, they have also added that the US will continue to make sure that Israel has the military capacity to defend itself, indicating that longer-term weapons deals are not going to be halted at this time.

“We are continuing to send military assistance, and we will ensure that Israel receives the full amount provided in the supplemental. We have paused a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs because we do not believe they should be dropped in densely populated cities. We are talking to the Israeli government about this,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip following Palestinian resistance group Hamas’ cross-border attack on Oct. 7, 2023, which killed about 1,200 people.

At least 35,200 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have since been killed, and over 79,000 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

More than seven months into the conflict, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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