Joe Biden govt bypasses Congress, sends thousands of munitions to Israel amid ongoing conflict against Hamas

Men walk through the destroyed streets of Gaza.Photo Courtesy: WHO

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IBNS: The US State Department on Friday (December 8, 2023) transmitted an emergency declaration for the sale of thousands of munitions to Israel, media reports said.

The US government reportedly bypassed the standard 20-day period that congressional committees are typically afforded to review such a sale.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN that the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which have oversight over military sales, had been under “pressure” from the State Department to approve the request quickly amid Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Typically, the state department gets 20 days to review foreign military sales. The period gives lawmakers a chance to raise questions about a transaction and delay it if needed.

The State Department transmitted an emergency declaration to the committees for over 13,000 of the tank shells, worth about $106 million, for immediate delivery to Israel, the source told CNN.

“Effective immediately, the items can be transferred,” the source said. “No further information, details or assurances were provided.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Saturday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken notified Congress on Friday “that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine an emergency existed necessitating the immediate approval of the transfer” of the tank munitions.

“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 spokesperson said.

“We continue to be clear with the government of Israel that they must comply with [international humanitarian law] and must take every feasible step to avoid harm to civilians.”