By granting emergency approval, the Biden administration has circumvented congressional oversight on military assistance to Israel, allowing for the sale of tank ammunition valued at $106.5 million. This ammunition is crucial for the ongoing conflict against Hamas in Gaza.
The US State Department confirmed its decision on Saturday, saying it had notified Congress the previous day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded that “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” of tank shells to Israel. The emergency determination was to protect US national security interests, according to the department.
The approval of such arms sales rarely bypasses congressional oversight and is ostensibly granted only when the executive branch sees the need to deliver weapons as too urgent to wait for lawmakers to take action. The deal with Israel includes nearly 14,000 high-explosive M830 tank rounds, which are capable of destroying tanks and other armored targets.
According to a statement from the State Department, the United States is dedicated to ensuring the safety of Israel. It is crucial for the US to support Israel in building and sustaining a robust self-defense capability. This proposed sale aligns with these goals, as it will enable Israel to deter regional threats and bolster its defense at home.
The Biden administration is encountering difficulties in obtaining approval from Congress for a supplemental security budget of $106 billion, which includes $14.3 billion designated for Israel. Despite the House of Representatives approving a bill that would provide $14.5 billion in aid, President Biden has maintained that funding for Israel and Ukraine must be packaged together.
Republican lawmakers have held up the approval of additional aid to Kiev after previously approving $113 billion in outlays, citing concern that Washington is merely prolonging the conflict with Russia without a clear victory strategy.
Some Democrats have suggested that any military aid given to Israel should be made contingent on taking steps to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza. Nearly 18,000 Palestinians have been killed, and 1.9 million people have been displaced since the latest hostilities began in October. The conflict was triggered when Hamas launched surprise attacks on villages in southern Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages to Gaza.
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