Biden will send more than $1bn in new weapons to Israel, despite Netanyahu’s Rafah plans

Biden will send more than $1bn in new weapons to Israel, despite Netanyahu’s Rafah plans

The Biden administration has told Congress that it wants to send more than $1bn in new weapons to Israel despite its opposition to the invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza by the Israeli military.

The US announced this month that it had paused a bomb shipment to Israel, concerned that civilians may be killed if they were put to use in densely populated areas.

The new package of weapons, which would include $700m in tank ammunition, $500m of tactical vehicles, and $60m of mortar rounds has been sent for approval to Congress.

It remains unclear when the arms will be sent. Two congressional aides have said that the shipment is not part of the foreign aid package signed by Mr Biden last month.

The Biden administration has faced criticism from the left and the right for its handling of Israel’s war in Gaza, which is now in its seventh month.

Several members of Mr Biden’s own party have argued that he should restrict the transfer of offensive weapons to Israel to push the country to take stronger measures to limit the harm to Palestinian civilians. The war has prompted widespread pro-Palestinian protests at college campuses across the US.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden (Getty)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden (Getty)

Republicans have used the pause in the bomb transfer to slam the Biden administration, arguing that a lack of American support will weaken Israel in its fight against Hamas and other terrorist groups.

House Republicans will vote on a bill this week that would mandate delivering offensive weapons to Israel. The White House said on Tuesday that Mr Biden would veto the bill if it reaches his desk, though it’s unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate.

House Democrats have been divided on the matter, with about two dozen signing onto a letter stating their concerns about the message sent by the pause in the bomb shipments.

New York Representative Ritchie Torres said he would probably back the bill in the House.

“I have a general rule of supporting pro-Israel legislation unless it includes a poison pill like cuts to domestic policy,” he said.

“We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the President’s ability to deploy US security assistance consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week.

She added that the administration plans to spend all funds appropriated by Congress in the national security package signed by Mr Biden last month.

The Biden administration has said that it will continue other arms shipments as well as general military support for Israel – the largest recipient of US military support.

The plans to send more than $1bn of weapons to Israel were initially reported by The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told the press that Mr Biden will make sure that “Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas”.

“For [Biden], this is very straightforward – he’s going to continue to provide Israel with all of [the] capabilities it needs, but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And again, he has been clear and consistent with that,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report