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Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

Cardin and Meeks had worried about the humanitarian toll. Not anymore.

Reporting | QiOSK

The Washington Post this morning has reported that the top Democrats on the Armed Services Committees — Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Senator Ben Cardin (Md.) — have finally given their nod on the biggest arms sale to Israel since Oct. 7.

In fact, after holding it up for months they gave their approval "weeks ago." Now Congress will be formally notified.

The package includes 50 F-15s that won't arrive in Israel for years, along with surface-to-air missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which retrofit unguided bombs with precision guidance, according to the paper. The package is worth $18 billion.

The two Democrats had been resistant to give their nods (the ranking Republicans gave their approval months ago) due in part to the continued blocking of aid in the strip. Meeks, according to the Post, told CNN in April that “I don’t want the kinds of weapons that Israel has to be utilized to have more deaths...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.”

What changed his mind is a mystery as 1) there is less aid getting into Gaza than ever, and 2) U.S. weapons have been used in several mass casualty events on the ground in recent weeks as Israel has pushed into Rafah and has been bombarding central and southern Gaza, obliterating homes, shelters, and targeting refugee encampments for the last month.

But we know there is enormous pressure on lawmakers who want the Biden administration to use its leverage — including $4 billion a year in military aid to pay for such weapons — to stop the civilian carnage Republicans have said that the administration is not giving the Israelis more missiles and ammo fast enough, calling it a "reprehensible" betrayal. Efforts to condition further aid have fallen largely by the wayside.

The administration has "paused" the transfer of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs due to recent events but are already consider "unpausing." The House has already passed a bill punishing the administration for holding back the weapons in the first place.

According to the Post, Meeks told the paper that he has been in “close touch” with the White House and “repeatedly urged the administration to continue pushing Israel to make significant and concrete improvements on all fronts when it comes to humanitarian efforts and limiting civilian casualties.” Cardin's office, for its part, said the package had gone through the "regular review processes."

Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-NY) speaks during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hosts a roundtable with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023. (Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Reporting | QiOSK
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