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Biden Administration Approves Emergency Sale of Tank Ammunition to Israel

In a move circumventing Congressional processes, the Biden administration announced on Saturday its approval of the emergency sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel. The munitions, valued at over $106 million, come as Israel escalates military operations in the southern Gaza Strip.

While President Joe Biden’s request for a substantial $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and national security remains stalled in Congress, entangled in discussions on U.S. immigration policy and border security, the administration has chosen to expedite assistance to Israel independently.

The State Department disclosed the sale late Friday, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken determining that “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” in the U.S. national security interest. This decision allows the purchase to bypass the usual congressional review for foreign military sales, a rare but not unprecedented move employed in urgent situations.

In a statement, the State Department emphasized the commitment to Israel’s security, stating, “The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives.” The ammunition, totaling $106.5 million, includes 13,981 120 mm High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer tank cartridges, along with U.S. support, engineering, and logistics, all sourced from the Army inventory.

Such emergency determinations for arms sales have historically faced resistance from lawmakers, who typically have a window of time to assess and potentially block proposed weapons transfers. This decision echoes a similar move in May 2019 when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an emergency determination for an $8.1 billion weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, amid concerns about the Saudi-UAE-led war in Yemen.