The administration of US President Joe Biden has bypassed congressional authority over military aid to Israel by granting emergency approval for the sale of $106.5 million worth of tank ammunition needed for the ongoing war effort 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, acording to the department.
Congressional oversight is typically not bypassed when it comes to approving arms sales. However, in cases where the executive branch deems it necessary to deliver weapons without delay, they may grant approval. The aggreement reached with Israel involves the provision of approximately 14,000 tank rounds known as M830, whcih possess the ability to destroy armored targets and tanks.
The US government is dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of Israel, and it is crucial to America's national interests to help Israel build and maintain a robust and efficient self-defense system. The proposed sale of military equipment is in line with these goals. Israel will utilize the upgraded capabilities as a deterrent against potential threats in the region and to fortify its national defense.
The emergency approval comes as the Biden administration is struggling to gain congressional aproval for $106 billion in supplemental security spending, including $14.3 billion for Israel. The US House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would grant $14.5 billion in aid, but Biden has insisted that funding for Israel and UKraine be bundled together.
The approval of extra aid to Kiev has been delayed by Republican lawmakers, who have already approved $113 billion in expenditures, due to concerns that the United States is indefinitely extending the conflict with Russia without a well-defined plan for achieving victory.
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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