Biden Admin Considers Massive Sale Of Fighter Jets, Missiles To Israel: REPORT

U.S. Airmen from the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, evacuate F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, Sept. 12, 2018 in response to the severe weather threat from quickly approaching Hurricane Florence. More than 2,100 South Carolina National Guard Airmen and Soldiers have been mobilized to prepare, respond and participate in recovery efforts as forecasters project Hurricane Florence will increase in strength with potential to be a Category 4 storm and a projected path to make landfall in the Carolinas and along the mid-atlantic region. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

The Biden administration is considering a major sale to Israel of fighter jets and missiles valued at up to $18 billion, according to media reports Monday.

The sale, if approved, would be the largest to go through since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, CNN reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. The sale could include up to 50 new F-15 fighter jets, 30 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), and an unspecified number of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAMs), Politico reported, citing a Congressional aide and another official familiar with the discussions, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the final announcement.

Although the weapons won’t reach Israel for years, the sale comes amid increasing pressure on President Joe Biden from elements of his administration, Capitol Hill and prospective voters to step back from supporting Israel, according to Politico.

The Biden administration has informed relevant congressional committees on an unofficial basis, the aide said, although the sale is not approved yet, Politico reported. Still, the informal notification indicates the administration is prepared to sign off on the transaction.

The State Department told Politico it does not comment on future sales, and the Pentagon referred the outlet to the State Department.

Democrats have urged the Biden administration to consider blocking arms sales to Israel as a bargaining tool, Politico reported. They aim to coerce Israel into halting its planned ground offensive into the heavily populated area of Rafah, where Israel says the last major Hamas stronghold lies. More than 1 million civilians are sheltering in the area from the heavier fighting in northern Gaza.

Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 32,000 Palestinians have died in the fighting, although the ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said Congress might block transfers of offensively-oriented weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorizes a ground assault on Rafah, Politico reported.

Biden said such an operation would be a “red line.”

“And so if the president’s gonna say something’s a red line, it’s essential the president have an accountability structure,” Van Hollen told the outlet.

JDAMs are kits that can be attached to unguided bombs, turning them into precision-guided weapons.

On March 29, The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration quietly approved an arms package for Israel consisting of 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, citing Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the transfer.

“We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” a White House official told the Post on condition of anonymity. “Conditioning aid has not been our policy.”

The State Department and Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

 


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