Biden Plans $1B Arms Sale to Israel Amidst Gaza Tensions

Biden Administration Advances $1 Billion Arms Sale to Israel

Biden Administration’s $1 Billion Arms Deal with Israel

The Biden administration recently informed Congress about its plan to proceed with a significant arms deal. This deal involves selling over $1 billion worth of new weapons to Israel, according to three congressional aides privy to the information.

Details of the Proposed Arms Sale

President Biden’s administration will include new tactical vehicles and ammunition in the sale. However, the President has previously withheld a shipment of bombs to Israel. This was done in a bid to prevent the usage of U.S.-made weapons for a potential invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Just last week, Biden stated he would block the delivery of weapons like bombs and missiles that could be fired into the densely populated area. More than a million Palestinians are currently seeking shelter in this region.

The Fine Balance of US-Israel Relations

In these circumstances, the Biden administration is treading a delicate path with Israel. The aim is to prevent an assault on Rafah and limit civilian casualties in Gaza, while continuing to support a valued ally. It should be noted that the President has repeatedly stated that Israel has the right to defend itself.

For example, a congressional aide mentioned that Congress had been aware of this arms deal for several months. It appears the administration was waiting for a foreign aid package with more aid for Israel to pass before proceeding with the required congressional notification process.

Reactions to the Proposed Deal

When questioned about the package, the State Department referred to Jake Sullivan’s recent comments. Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, mentioned the continued commitment to supply Israel with military assistance for its defense against regional threats.

“The president was clear he would not supply certain offensive weapons for such an operation, were it to occur,” Sullivan said. “It has not yet occurred. And we are still working with Israel on a better way to ensure the defeat of Hamas everywhere in Gaza, including in Rafah.”

The Situation in Gaza and the Proposed Ceasefire

Currently, the administration is working towards a ceasefire deal. This deal would require Hamas to release some hostages taken during an attack on Israel on October 7th. However, the Qatari prime minister, a crucial player in these talks, declared on Tuesday that negotiations had reached “almost a stalemate.”

Despite the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the United States remains committed to ensuring Israel’s security. This includes supplying arms for the Iron Dome missile defense system and for Israel’s “ability to respond to attacks” like the one Iran launched in April.

Next Steps in the Arms Deal

The State Department’s informal notification of the arms transfer to the required congressional committees initiates a multi-step process. Top foreign affairs lawmakers will informally consider the terms of the weapons transfer and deliberate with the department in private. Following this, Congress as a whole will then consider the package.

In the light of these developments, it remains to be seen how the Biden administration’s decisions will shape the future of US-Israel relations and impact the volatile situation in Gaza.