Major F-15 Deal With Israel Gets Green Light After Congressional Holdout


Two influential Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate have signed off on a major arms sale to Israel, paving the way for the transfer of 50 F-15 fighter jets worth more than $18 billion, along with air-to-air missiles and precision-guided munitions, according to The Washington Post, citing three U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The decision by Representative Gregory W. Meeks (NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin (Md), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came after months of intense pressure from the Biden administration and pro-Israel advocates.

Initially, Meeks had publicly vowed to block the arms package unless he received assurances from the administration about how the warplanes and munitions would be used in Gaza, where more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to local health authorities, as reported by The Post.

“I don’t want the kinds of weapons that Israel has to be utilized to have more deaths,” Meeks told CNN in April. “I want to make sure that humanitarian aid gets in. I don’t want people starving to death, and I want Hamas to release the hostages. And I want a two-state solution.”

After months of holding up the arms sale, Meeks and Cardin signed off on the transaction several weeks ago, according to U.S. officials cited by The Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss arms transfers.

Meeks told The Post that he has been in “close touch” with the White House about the package and “repeatedly urged the administration to continue pushing Israel to make significant and concrete improvements on all fronts when it comes to humanitarian efforts and limiting civilian casualties.” He underscored that the F-15s will be delivered “years from now” and said he remained supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself against threats from Iran and Hezbollah.

A spokesman for Cardin said the sale went through the “regular review processes.”

“Any issues or concerns Chair Cardin had were addressed through our ongoing consultations with the administration, and that’s why he felt it appropriate to allow this case to move forward,” Eric Harris, the communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted by The Post.

The decision underscores the substantial appetite in Washington to continue the flow of arms to Israel, despite concerns from some members of Congress that the United States should use its leverage to pressure Israel to reduce the intensity of the war and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

If ultimately approved, the transaction would be one of the largest arms sales to Israel since the conflict began. The weaponry, often paid over many years, is largely financed by the more than $3.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds Washington provides to Israel every year, according to The Washington Post.

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