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Major arms sales to Israel expected to proceed after delay in US Congress

Israel Air Force fighter jet F-15, at the Tel Nor airforce base. January 1, 2024. (Photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A major arms sale to Israel, including 50 F-15 fighter jets, is now expected to be finalized after two key Democrat holdouts in the United States Congress agreed to support the deal, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

In February, U.S. President Joe Biden asked for approval of an arms sale package that included 50 new F-15 fighter jets, 30 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons, according to The Politico.

Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks and Sen. Ben Cardin, who serve on the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees, respectively, were two out of four lawmakers with the power to veto the bill, along with House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Jim Risch (R-ID). The four diplomats had reportedly been holding up the sale for months.

“I want to know what types of weapons and what the weapons would be utilized for,” Meeks said in April. “I take things very seriously and that's why I've got to go into the SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility] to see for myself what those assurances are."

“I don’t want the kinds of weapons that Israel has to be utilized to have more deaths,” Meeks continued. “I want to make sure that humanitarian aid gets in. I don’t want people starving to death, and I want Hamas to release the hostages. And I want a two-state solution.”

The persistent claims of starvation in Gaza have been debunked by Israel repeatedly. The UN-affiliated body IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) recently published a new report concluding that there is no famine in Gaza, however, the report has been largely ignored by international media.

According to Politico, “Meeks has been a long-time Israel supporter, yet his Queens district is predominantly Black, a group that’s more likely to sympathize with Palestinians and question U.S. support for Israel, according to recent polling.”

According to U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity, Meeks and Cardin agreed to the sale several weeks ago.

“Any issues or concerns Chair Cardin had were addressed through our ongoing consultations with the (Biden)Administration, and that’s why he felt it appropriate to allow this case to move forward,” Eric Harris, communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Washington Post in a statement.

The next step in closing the deal is for the State Department to notify Congress of the approved sale, though it was unclear why the notification had not already been sent.

If the deal proceeds, it will be one of the largest arms sales to Israel since the war began on Oct, 7, with a delivery of F-15 fighter jets worth more than $18 billion. The jets, however, will reportedly not be delivered for years to come

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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