Under pressure from DNC donors, Biden will transfer $1 billion in weapons to Israel | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | David Israel | 7 Iyyar 5784 – Wednesday May 15, 2024

Photo credit: Official White House photo by Adam Schultz

President Joe Biden, March 20, 2024.

According to The New York Times, citing three congressional aides familiar with the proposed arms deal, the Biden administration has notified Congress of its intention to move forward with a plan for the United States to receive more than $1 billion in new weapons to sell to Israel. The administration also told Congress that these substantial arms sales underscore the continued close military cooperation between the two long-standing allies, despite ongoing tensions between them.

The proposed arms deals would potentially facilitate the transfer of $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar shells from the US to Israel. Missing from the list is the 2,000 pounds. bombs, 3,500 of them, the delivery of which has been halted by the government for fear that they would be used in Rafah (The White House halts shipments of bombs to Israel to sabotage Operation Rafah).

But while these bombs could be very useful in cracking the last remaining Hamas tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip, they would be essential for cracking the network of Hezbollah tunnels north of Israel’s border with Lebanon. The Hamas tunnels are dug in sandy soil, which requires less energy to inflate than Hezbollah’s tunnels under basalt rocks.

According to The Washington Post, the administration’s decision to move forward with the arms deal underlines its reluctance to go against the wishes of pro-Israel donors within the Democratic Party. These donors had criticized Biden’s earlier decision to hold back the shipment of those 2,000-pound bombs.

According to a report from Axios last Thursday, Haim Saban, a prominent Democratic megadonor and Hollywood media mogul, sharply criticized President Biden’s decision to temporarily halt an arms shipment to Israel. In an email addressed to senior Biden aides Steve Ricchetti and Anita Dunn, Saban wrote: “Let’s not forget that there are more Jewish voters who care about Israel than Muslim voters who care about Hamas.” His statement means that the government should prioritize the interests of pro-Israel Jewish voters over concerns about potential harm to Gaza Arabs who, you know, don’t vote or fundraise.

Biden’s attempt to appease his pro-Israel supporters did not go down well with the team. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Politico: “If the president and the United States have drawn a red line on Rafah, then it is really incredibly important that we do not equip the Netanyahu government with the tools and weapons to to cross our borders. own red line. In terms of a more coherent approach, I think it’s important.”

In response to President Biden’s decision to temporarily halt certain arms shipments to Israel, Republican lawmakers last week advanced legislative efforts to prevent the administration from imposing such restrictions.

On Monday, the White House expressed strong opposition to the Republican-backed bill. At a press conference, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “We strongly oppose efforts to limit the President’s ability to deploy U.S. security assistance consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.” Her statement underscored the administration’s position on maintaining flexibility in managing arms transfers, even to close allies like Israel, based on perceived national interests and policy objectives.

In other words, before any country decides to rely on the US for military support, its leaders are advised to watch films about the evacuation of US troops from Saigon in 1974 and the evacuation of US troops from Kabul in 2021. Washington will inevitably lead to an ugly divorce in Taiwan.

Some Democrats told Politico they were inclined to support the Republican Party-led legislation and also wanted clarity from the White House on the intervention in how Israel is waging its war for survival.

Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), who plans to support the GOP bill, said, “What would be really helpful is clarity from the White House and the president on our strategic priorities as it pertains to ending this war.”

And one of Israel’s greatest friends in Congress, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), said: “These are not the kinds of discussions and strategies that should be had publicly, because there are so many different kinds of decisions — a lot of moving parts — but it was still concerning that he made that announcement last week. she said.

The RJC on Monday was enthusiastic about the bill – which the government has already promised to veto even if it passes the Democratic Congress. RJC National Chairman, former Senator Norm Coleman, and CEO Matt Brooks sent an email praising the legislation:

“We appreciate the strong leadership of Republicans in the House of Representatives to quickly respond to President Biden’s indefensible betrayal of Israel. We are especially grateful to the bill’s sponsor, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA), as well as Full Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole and Chairman Mike Johnson and his leadership team.

“The Israel Security Assistance Support Act will guarantee the delivery of the defense items promised to the Jewish state a few weeks ago in the Supplemental Annex for Foreign Assistance. To ensure compliance, the Calvert bill will block funding for the agencies administering the embargo until it is lifted.”

RJC leaders noted that “Some Democrats in the House of Representatives have tried to distance themselves from Biden’s Israel embargo, and the upcoming vote will give them a chance to put real force behind their words.”

“Once this bill is passed, the responsibility for action will shift to Senator Schumer and the Democratic majority in the Senate,” they concluded.