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Biden Administration Nearing Approval of $18 Billion Sale of F-15 Fighter Jets to Israel

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Image credit: AF.mil

The Biden administration is on the verge of greenlighting the sale of up to 50 American-manufactured F-15 fighter jets to Israel, in a deal estimated to exceed $18 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter.

This potential transaction, anticipated to be the most significant US foreign military sale to Israel since its conflict with Hamas in October, comes alongside the administration’s expected notification to Congress of a substantial new sale of precision-guided munitions kits to Israel.

The proposed sales of some of America’s most advanced weaponry highlight the ongoing support for Israel’s military efforts, despite criticisms from Biden administration officials regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza, where more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed since October, as reported by the Gaza Ministry of Health.

The sale is likely to spark vigorous debate in Congress, particularly among members of the president’s own party. Recent months have seen increased scrutiny of US arms sales to Israel, with Democratic lawmakers calling for restrictions on military aid until Israel improves humanitarian access to Gaza and takes steps to protect civilians.

Since the October attack by Hamas, which claimed over 1,200 Israeli lives, the US has executed more than 100 foreign military sales to Israel. While most of these fell below the dollar threshold requiring congressional notification, the $18 billion F-15 sale necessitates formal notification to Congress.

The House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees were informally notified of the F-15 sale in late January, allowing lawmakers time to review the details before a formal notification is sent to Congress by the State Department.

While Senator James Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has given his approval for the sale, Democratic members such as Senator Ben Cardin and Representative Greg Meeks can still raise objections.

Should no objections arise, Congress will have 30 days to block the sale via a joint resolution of disapproval. However, historically, Congress has never successfully blocked a proposed arms sale through such a resolution.

Concurrently, there are mounting concerns among Democrats regarding the Biden administration’s continued intelligence sharing with Israel, particularly in light of recent escalations in the conflict.

US diplomats have expressed frustration over the administration’s reluctance to leverage its influence to alter Israel’s approach to the ongoing conflict. Despite calls for a more assertive stance, the proposed F-15 and precision-guided munitions sales signal that the administration is not poised to restrict military assistance in the near future.

Unlike the precision-guided munitions, which could be delivered promptly, the new F-15s would require construction from scratch. Consequently, if approved, they would not reach Israel for at least five years.

In addition to the fighter jets, the proposed package includes engines, gun systems, radars, and navigation systems, along with construction and logistical infrastructure support.

While the Biden administration’s willingness to proceed with such a substantial sale during an election year underscores its commitment to Israel’s long-term defense, it has raised questions among critics about the timing and potential consequences of such a decision.

This story was originally featured on CNN

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