1703923343 Biden administration bypasses Congress on arms sales to Israel –

Biden administration bypasses Congress on arms sales to Israel – Al Jazeera English

For the second time in a month, the US is approving ammunition for Israel while calling for an end to mass civilian deaths.

US President Joe Biden's administration has once again bypassed Congress and given the green light to an emergency arms sale to Israel, which has only intensified and expanded its attacks on the Gaza Strip despite growing international outrage.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress that he had made a second emergency decision in less than a month related to the sale of $147.5 million in equipment to Israel, the State Department said Friday .

“Given the urgency of Israel's defense needs, the Secretary informed Congress that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine that an emergency existed requiring immediate authorization of the deployment,” it said.

“The United States is committed to Israel’s security, and ensuring that Israel is able to defend itself against the threats it faces is critical to U.S. national interests.”

The package contains additional items, including fuses, charges and detonators, that Israel would need to make the previously purchased 155mm grenades functional.

Friday's emergency order, rare but used by at least four previous U.S. administrations, means bypassing a requirement of a potentially lengthy congressional review of foreign military sales.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane said it was important to point out the broader context of the message.

“We have been hearing for weeks from all senior officials in the Biden administration that it is time for Israel to transition to a lower intensity conflict. Essentially: Stop the mass bombing. Stop mass civilian deaths,” she said.

“In this context, knowing that this is what they claim to want, they are now selling to Israel the execution munitions they need to continue an intensive campaign.”

Culhane reported that Israel will also purchase 155mm M107 projectiles, which are artillery shells that will cause widespread destruction in a densely populated area like Gaza.

“They didn’t say exactly how many [shells] should be included in this $147.5 million package. But in previous packages it actually meant that thousands and thousands of bombs will go to Israel.”

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On December 9, the government made another emergency decision, authorizing the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition worth more than $106 million to Israel.

This comes as Biden's request for a massive $106 billion package that includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and other perceived national security needs has not yet been passed by Congress as it is caught up in a debate over the country's immigration and border security policies USA is involved.

The Biden administration has sought to counter criticism of the rising death toll in Gaza and continuing U.S. arms sales to Israel by saying it is in constant contact with Israel to emphasize the importance of preventing civilian casualties minimize.

However, Luciana Zaccara, associate professor of military sciences at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera that they were taking a “two-track” approach to the war.

“On the one hand, they are trying to convince public opinion that the US is really concerned about civilian casualties, but they also continue to support Israel (militarily),” he said. “It's completely contradictory… it's hard to understand how this is in the national interest.”

The policy is particularly confusing given “increasing pressure” in the United States, including among Democrats, against the war as civilian casualties in Gaza continue to rise, Zaccara said.

Some Democratic lawmakers have suggested that further significant aid to Israel should be conditional on concrete commitments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to curb the number of civilian casualties in Gaza.

Since October 7, more than 21,000 Palestinians have been killed in the besieged enclave, most of them children and women, in what is widely described as collective punishment. Thousands more are missing.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said on Saturday that Israeli authorities continued to impose “severe restrictions” on humanitarian access despite aid deliveries from Egypt and through the Rafah border crossing.

He also said they were “generating a stream of unsubstantiated misinformation” to accuse aid agencies of shortfalls in delivery.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned again that the conflict could spread to the wider region if it is not stopped immediately.

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