Biden admin approves $1 billion military arms package for Israel despite opposition to Rafah incursion

The move comes just days after President Joe Biden promised 'ironclad' support for Israel in its ongoing conflict against Hamas in Gaza, signaling at least a partial reversal of the decision to halt a shipment of bombs last week.

Biden admin approves $1 billion military arms package for Israel despite opposition to Rafah incursion
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that a $1 billion military arms package for Israel would proceed, signaling at least a partial reversal of its decision to halt a shipment of bombs last week due to Israel's plans to move on Rafah. The move comes just days after President Joe Biden promised "ironclad" support for Israel in its ongoing conflict against Hamas in Gaza.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the current package may include "$700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds," but might not contain the 2,000lb bombs that were part of the previously withheld shipment.

The decision to halt the earlier shipment came alongside Biden's voiced opposition to Israel's planned invasion of Rafah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated last week that while the U.S. would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, future shipments could be withheld if Israeli forces were to invade densely populated areas. This statement prompted backlash from both the public and members of Congress, the Daily Wire reported.

Several Democrats expressed concern over Biden's decision, with Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) calling it a "hard disagree and deeply disappointing." House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) hoped Biden's comments were a "senior moment" rather than an official policy position, while Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) criticized the mixed messaging, stating that it "makes a mockery of our credibility as an ally."

Seth Binder, an expert on U.S. weapons sales with the Middle East Democracy Center, believes the mixed messages may still pose a problem for Biden, especially given the announcement of the current arms deal so soon after holding back the previous shipment.

Binder argued that if Biden intended to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he might be approaching it incorrectly, stating, "This is just another example of them muddying their message and undermining any real strength behind the hold."

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