Sources: Biden Administration Considering $18 Billion Arms Deal with Israel

The Biden administration is currently considering moving forward with a significant $18 billion arms transfer package to Israel, which includes dozens of F-15 aircraft and munitions, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

The request for the sale of 25 F-15s from Boeing to Israel was formally submitted in January 2023 and has been under review since then, as reported by one of the sources.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, during his recent visit to Washington, urged for expediting the delivery of the aircraft, which was among the top priorities discussed with U.S. officials, including U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, according to the second source.

On Jan. 30, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul approved the sale, following notification to the relevant congressional offices responsible for overseeing major arms transfers, as confirmed by a committee aide.

While deliberations between the administration and Congress have taken place regarding the F-15 case, there are still some offices that need to sign off on the agreement, as mentioned by the second source familiar with the matter.

The arms package consists of a substantial number of F-15 aircraft, aircraft munitions, and various support services, training, maintenance, and sustainment over the lifecycle of the aircraft, which typically spans up to two decades, according to one of the sources.

A third source indicated that the Biden administration has shown support for Israel’s F-15 request.

Despite expressing concerns publicly about Israel’s potential military operations in Rafah, the southern city of the Gaza Strip where many displaced Palestinians have sought refuge, Washington has continued its $3.8 billion annual military assistance to Israel without imposing any conditions on arms transfers, despite criticism from senior U.S. officials over civilian casualties.

During his visit to Washington, Gallant emphasized Israel’s need for weapons to maintain its qualitative military edge in the region, including its air capabilities, when speaking with senior U.S. officials.

The Israeli embassy in Washington has not yet responded to requests for comment.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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