US ‘quietly approves more than 100 sales of weapons to Israel’

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Semafor Signals

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Insights from The Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and The New York Times

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The United States has authorized more than 100 separate weapons sales to Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, a stark addition to the publicly announced sales of arms during the Israel-Hamas war.

Members of Congress were told in a classified briefing of the arms sales, which included “thousands of precision-guided munitions, small diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other lethal aid,” according to the Post.

Previously, only two approved weapons sales authorized by President Joe Biden had been made public. The Biden administration bypassed Congress to initiate $253.5 million in sales of tank ammunition and components needed to make 155 mm shells.

Washington is continuing to aid Israel’s war efforts despite widespread public pressure for a ceasefire and internal frustration over Israel’s inability to minimize civilian casualties and supply humanitarian aid, leading Biden to authorize an airdrop of food aid last week.


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White House increasingly uneasy over war, but won’t relent on military aid

Source:  The Economist

The Biden administration inherently believes in Israel’s right to defend itself but is also “​​exasperated” by mounting casualties and political fallout from the war, according to The Economist. Still, the White House has “declined to use America’s leverage more directly” by pausing arms sales to Israel, a move that would be similar to Ronald Reagan’s blocking of weapons to the country in the 1980s, the paper reported. But the White House is making its unease over Israel’s actions in Gaza more overt, granting Benny Gantz, a centrist in Israel’s staunchly right-wing administration, a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In meeting with Gantz, Washington is warning Netanyahu that Biden “may yet put his thumb on the scales of Israel’s unsteady politics,” The Economist wrote.

Most Americans oppose sending more arms to Israel, but there’s a partisan divide

Sources:  Center for Economic and Policy Research, The New York Times

Just over half of Americans said they agreed with stopping weapon shipments to Israel until its attacks on Gaza stop, according to a recent poll by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. There is a stark divide along partisan lines, however: 62% of respondents who voted for Biden in 2020 agreed with halting the arms deliveries, compared with only 30% of respondents who voted for Trump. The polarizing conflict is becoming a particular headache for Biden’s reelection campaign as powerful progressive factions of the Democrats decry the president’s firmly pro-Israel policy: in states including Minnesota, a significant number of Democrat voters in the recent primary elections voted “uncommitted” in protest, meaning they are voting for state delegates who are not obligated to nominate Biden on the ticket. The campaign to shun the president over the Israel-Hamas war has Democratic strategists worried about a lower voter turnout in the November general election, which would benefit former President Donald Trump.