Wed 19 Jun 2024 3:02 pm - Jerusalem Time

The Biden administration delays the sale of 50 warplanes to Israel

US officials said that the Biden administration is delaying progress on the sale of a fleet of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, after congressional leaders agreed to allow this deal to move forward, last month.

On May 22, two senior Democratic leaders in Congress lifted their ban on the deal due to concerns about civilian deaths in the war on Gaza. Lifting the ban would allow the State Department to formally notify lawmakers of the deal, which is a necessary condition for completing any major arms deal, but the administration has not yet taken this step, according to what the Wall Street Journal reported, administration and congressional officials reported today, Wednesday.

The deal includes the sale of 50 F-15 warplanes, for $18 billion, and is considered one of the largest arms deals with Israel in recent years. This deal comes at a time when Biden is facing calls from leaders in his party to withhold American weapons in order to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to end the war on Gaza. The administration urges Israel to calm tensions along its northern border with Lebanon.

A US State Department official told the newspaper that “there are no political directives to slow down arms transfers to Israel,” adding that some in the administration are concerned that the deal may lead to broader opposition in Congress, and he considered that “we are looking tactically at the timing. The issue is not if.” Whether it will happen or not is a question of when it will happen.” The White House declined to comment on the matter.

The potential deal comes within the framework of attempts to reach a ceasefire and prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas, with American, Qatari and Egyptian mediation.

“This is very unusual,” said Josh Paul, a State Department official who resigned in October to protest the Biden administration’s handling of the Gaza war. “Formal notification after Congress approves the issue usually takes a week at most.”

Yesterday, Netanyahu criticized the American administration for what he described as disrupting the supply of American weapons and ammunition. He said in a video clip in English, “It is unreasonable for the American administration to withhold weapons and ammunition from Israel during the past few months.”

Following Netanyahu’s statements, the White House canceled the US-Israeli Strategic Working Group meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday. Axios quoted an American official as saying, “The decision is a hint from the White House to Netanyahu about the extent of Biden’s anger over his statements, and the feeling of Biden’s advisors that the Prime Minister (Netanyahu) is ungrateful.”


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The Biden administration delays the sale of 50 warplanes to Israel