Biden administration begins lengthy process to approve $1 billion arms deal for Israel

ByKylie Atwood
Wednesday, May 15, 2024 12:47PM
US to send $1 billion in weapons to Israel, sources say
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.

The Biden administration on Tuesday began the early stages of a process to move ahead with a new $1 billion arms deal 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 due to the informal notification on Tuesday. There is no set timeline for when Congress would officially be notified of the sale, setting into motion a clock for its approval.

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.

Top American officials offered stark warnings Sunday against an Israeli invasion of Rafah

The potential new $1 billion arms 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 confirmed. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the administration's discussions with Congress about this sale.

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 be a lengthy process, potentially drawn out by congressional objections.

While US officials have said that other cases of weapons shipments to Israel would be under review, they have also said 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.

The State Department did not comment on the informal notification other than to point to Sullivan's remarks.

The Pentagon also declined to comment.

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