Source: Middle East Eye. - Photo: 2024

US Halts 2,000-Pound Bombs to Israel, But Compensates with New Weapons

By Thalif Deen

NEW YORK | 15 May 2024 (IDN) — US President Joe Biden’s much-ballyhooed decision to halt the delivery of about 3,500 bombs to Israel seems only a token political gesture to keep his critics silent.

The 2,000-pound bombs, used by the US during the Vietnam War, have caused the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and reduced homes and buildings to rubble.

Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on May 13 that the only weapons the US was withholding were 2,000-pound bombs.

The US, he said, is still sending “defensive weapons” and “range of offensive weapons” that do not run the risk of “major civilian casualties”.

A May 15 report on Cable News Network  (CNN) says the Biden administration has begun the process to move ahead with a new $1 billion weapons deal for Israel. The potential arms sale comes as the administration has paused the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs and 500-pound bombs to Israel, citing opposition to the weapons being used in the densely populated areas of Rafah—where more than 1 million people are sheltering.

The move, however, signals the Biden administration will continue to make sure that Israel has the military capacity to defend itself, indicating that longer-term weapons deals are not going to be halted at this time, CNN said.

No infringement on the President’s authorities

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration says it “strongly opposes” H.R. 8369, the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, which seeks to limit the President’s discretion to ensure that the delivery of certain defense articles and services aligns with US foreign policy objectives.

The bill would undermine the President’s ability to execute an effective foreign policy, according to an official statement released on May 14.

“This bill could raise serious concerns about infringement on the President’s authorities under Article II of the Constitution, including his duties as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive and his power to conduct foreign relations”.

“We strongly oppose attempts to constrain the President’s ability to deploy US security assistance consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives.”

The bill has been described as a misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the Administration’s approach to Israel.

“The President has been clear: we will always ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself. Our commitment to Israel is ironclad.”

The Biden Administration will continue to use all funds appropriated for Israel consistent with legal requirements, including in the recent supplemental, rendering this bill unnecessary and unwise.

Furthermore, this bill, if enacted, could lead to spiraling unintended consequences, prohibiting the United States from adjusting our security assistance posture concerning Israel in any way, including addressing unanticipated emergent needs, even if Israel and the United States agree that military needs have changed, and supplies should change accordingly.

The statement declared that if the President were presented with H.R. 8369, he would veto it. (

Steadfast support for Israel’s security cornerstone of US foreign policy

Meanwhile, according to an October 2023 report from the US State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, steadfast support for Israel’s security has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for every US Administration since the presidency of Harry S. Truman.

Since its founding in 1948, the United States has provided Israel with over $130 billion in bilateral assistance focused on addressing new and complex security threats, bridging Israel’s capability gaps through security assistance and cooperation, increasing interoperability through joint exercises, and helping Israel maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

“This assistance has helped transform the ‘Israel Defense Forces’ into one of the world’s most capable, effective militaries and turned the Israeli military industry and technology sector into one of the largest exporters of military capabilities worldwide.”

Since 1983, the United States and Israel have met regularly via the Joint Political-Military Group (JPMG) to promote shared policies, address common threats and concerns, and identify new areas for security cooperation.

The 48th JPMG, held in October 2022, reaffirmed the “ironclad strategic partnership” between the United States and Israel, underscoring a mutual commitment to advance collaboration in support of regional security and reinforce the historic achievements of recent normalization under the Abraham Accords.

Israel is the leading global recipient of Title 22 US security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This has been formalized by a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Consistent with the MOU, the United States annually provides $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense. Since FY 2009, the United States has provided Israel with $3.4 billion in funding for missile defence, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support starting in FY 2011.

Through FMF, the United States provides Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Lightning.  Israel is eligible for Cash Flow Financing and is authorized to use its annual FMF allocation to procure defence articles, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, Direct Commercial Contract agreements—which are FMF-funded Direct Commercial Sales procurements—and through Offshore Procurement (OSP).

Via OSP the current MOU allows Israel to spend a portion of its FMF on Israeli-origin rather than US-origin defense articles. This was 25 per cent in FY 2019 but is set to phase out and decrease to zero in FY 2028.

As of October 2023, the United States has 599 active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases—valued at $23.8 billion—with Israel. FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here; priority initiatives include: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft; CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters; KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers; and precision-guided munitions.

From FY 2018 through FY 2022, the US has also authorized the permanent export of over $12.2 billion in defense articles to Israel via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Israel were Gas Turbine Engines and Associated Equipment; Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines; and Aircraft.

$6.6 billion worth of equipment to Israel under a program

Since 1992, the United States has provided Israel with $6.6 billion worth of equipment under the Excess Defense Articles program, including weapons, spare parts, weapons, and simulators. European Command also maintains in Israel the War Reserve Stockpile, which can be used to boost Israeli defenses in the case of a significant military emergency.

In addition to security assistance and arms sales, the United States participates in a variety of exchanges with Israel, including military exercises like Juniper Oak and Juniper Falcon, as well as joint research, and weapons development.

The United States and Israel have signed multiple bilateral defense cooperation agreements, to include: a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1952); a General Security of Information Agreement (1982); a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (1991); and a Status of Forces Agreement (1994).

Since 2011, the United States has also invested more than $8 million in Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in the West Bank to improve regional and human security through the survey and clearance of undisputed minefields.

Following years of negotiations with the Palestinians and Israelis, humanitarian mine action activities began in April 2014—this represents the first humanitarian clearance of landmine contamination in nearly five decades.

Israel has been designated as a  Major Non-NATO Ally under law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States.

Consistent with statutory requirements, it is the policy of the United States to help Israel preserve its QME, or its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors while sustaining minimal damages and casualties.

This requires a quadrennial report to Congress, for arms transfers that are to be Congressionally notified, and a determination that individual arms transfers to the region will not adversely affect Israel’s QME, the report said. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo source: Middle East Eye.

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