Biden quietly signs off on more bombs, warplanes for Israel


US President Joe Biden has secretly authorized billions of dollars in new bombs and fighter jets for Israel in recent days, according to a report published Friday.

Israel’s war on Gaza continues to rage with widespread destruction, displacement and death throughout the coastal enclave. Tel Aviv has vowed to take its offensive to the southern city of Rafah where some 1.5 million displaced people have sought refuge despite warning of the humanitarian fallout that would ensue.

The arms approved this week by the US president include 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, anonymous State and Defense Department officials told the Washington Post newspaper. The State Department last week approved the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines, a US official added.

The planes and engines are estimated to be worth around $2.5 billion.

The sales have not been notified publicly, and there are no corresponding announcements on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s website where such notifications are normally posted.

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been increasingly at loggerheads in recent weeks, most recently clashing after the US failed to veto a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Netanyahu retaliated by abruptly calling off a planned visit to Washington by an interagency Israeli delegation that was to discuss US alternatives to Israel’s invasion of Rafah. The meeting is now being rescheduled. But the row does not appear to have affected Biden’s willingness to continue supplying Israel with arms.

The decision to quietly green light billions of dollars in arms comes over the demands of a growing number of Biden’s fellow Democrats who have urged the president to condition any additional provision of arms to Israel on its military conduct and removing obstructions to the provision of international humanitarian assistance.

Two weeks ago, a half-dozen Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden urging him to halt arms sales to Tel Aviv, because it is currently in violation of a 1961 law that prohibits arms sales to nations that obstruct the delivery of American aid.

“The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with US humanitarian assistance,” senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, Mazie Hirono, Peter Welch, Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren and Ben Ray Lujan wrote.

“Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza, and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address US concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government,” they added.__The Nation