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US officials: ‘White House does not intend to restrict arms sales to Israel’

March 8, 2024 at 11:47 am

Thousands of people march for the prohibition of arms trade with Israel and in support of Palestinians in Madrid, Spain on February 25, 2024. [Burak Akbulut – Anadolu Agency]

Four US officials confirmed that US President Joe Biden’s administration does not at this stage intend to restrict military aid to Israel, adding that the White House is only concerned with obtaining a “complete and accurate image” of US weapons that will be transferred to Israel, according to a report by Israeli news site Walla! on Thursday.

The US officials added that the White House has recently asked the Departments of State and Defence to provide it with a list of all weapons to be transferred to Israel to be approved in the coming weeks.

The officials said the White House’s request came against the backdrop of mounting pressure on the Biden administration from Democratic members of Congress, as well as from public polls, regarding US arms sales to Israel for the latter to use in its war on Gaza.

They added that the White House request does not indicate that the Biden administration will delay or suspend the transfer of weapons to Israel in the near future.

One official indicated that another reason for the White House’s request relates to a list of weapons that Israel had submitted to the Biden administration, which included the top priority weapons for the Israeli army, adding that the administration wants to examine the differences between the previous and current lists.

The 51st state? The US continues to shield Israel at the UN – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

An informed source indicated that the White House request is routine and that such a step has been taken regarding everything related to US military preparations for Ukraine, according to Walla!.

Read: Arms sales and diplomacy encourage Israeli genocide

The source added that this is the first time since the beginning of the war on Gaza that the White House has requested such a list from the State Department and the Pentagon in order to examine the security export permits to Israel before approving them, as well as regarding the weapons that are about to be transferred to Israel.

Pressure from members of Congress from the Democratic Party has recently increased, demanding that US military aid be used to pressure Israel to change the form of its war on Gaza and increase humanitarian aid to the Strip.

More than 35 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Biden several days ago, warning him that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would violate the rules recently set by Biden in which he claimed that US weapons would not be used in violation of international law.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Washington has approved and delivered more than 100 arms sales to Israel since 7 October.

The report disclosed that unnamed US officials have recently told Congress in a classified briefing that the sales included thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diametre bombs and other weapons.

According to the report, the sales did not need to be approved by Congress first, as the cost of each sale fell below the minimum amount that would require them to be considered.