Biden’s Push for $18 Billion in Warplane Sale to Israel

Although the fighter jets may not be delivered for years, critics call it a signal of support for Israel as it commits atrocities in Gaza.

Two Israeli F-15D Eagle aircraft practice in maneuvers over the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in 2007. (Kevin Gruenwald, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

Palestine advocates on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration for pushing Congress to approve the sale of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel, despite public pronouncements of anger over ongoing Israeli atrocities in Gaza and a federal ban on the U.S. arms transfers to human rights violators.

The New York Times reported that the U.S. State Department has informally asked two congressional committees to begin the legislative review process for the deal, which involves the sale of as many as 50 McDonnell Douglas F-15 fighters to Israel, as well as munitions, training, and other support.

The proposed deal — which would be one of the largest and most lucrative arms sales to Israel in years — comes amid Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, during which more than 115,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or are missing and presumed dead.

The planned sale also amid what President Joe Biden called Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza. 

On Tuesday, Biden said he was “outraged” and “heartbroken” by Israel’s airstrike targeting a World Central Kitchen convoy that killed seven humanitarian aid workers, including one U.S. citizen. 

Biden acknowledged that the attack was “not a stand-alone incident” while asserting that Israel has “not done enough” to protect Palestinian civilians.

People’s State of the Union protest, delaying Biden’s State of the Union speech, March 7, 2024. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Does anyone wonder why Netanyahu ignores Biden’s pleas for restraint in Gaza? Netanyahu sees them as empty words because, as Israel is bombing and starving Palestinian civilians, Biden still wants to sell it $18 billion of F-15 fighter jets,” former Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said Wednesday, referring to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Some congressional progressives have also come out against the proposed sale. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked:

“The United States wants Israel to let in more humanitarian aid, stop bombing civilians, and not invade Rafah. Netanyahu has ignored all of it. Why are we still sending him taxpayer dollars and weapons and expecting a different outcome?”

[See: US Complicity in Gaza Case Gets June Appeal Date]

William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, noted that the “signs of hope in the Biden administration’s recent shift in rhetoric” and the U.S. abstention from the most recent United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution have “been destroyed by the administration’s recent actions,” including the proposed F-15 sale. 

“Although the planes might not be delivered for years, agreeing to provide them in the midst of Israel’s war on Gaza sends a signal of support that runs contrary to the administration’s claims to be pressing the Netanyahu government to avoid civilian casualties and clear the way for humanitarian aid shipments,” he wrote. 

Hartung continued:

“The sad truth is that there have been zero consequences from Washington for Israel’s crimes in Gaza. Regardless of the rhetoric, the weapons keep flowing and the killing continues. The Biden administration’s argument that it is simply giving Israel the means to defend itself willfully ignores the fact that killing over 32,000 people and attempting to deny them food and other essential goods goes far beyond defense, to the point that the International Court of Justice has suggested that Israel’s actions could ‘plausibly’ be considered a campaign of genocide.”

“Even worse,” Hartung added, “the tragedy in Gaza has been compounded by Israel’s attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria, which has increased the chances of a wider Middle East war which could easily draw in U.S. personnel.”

Hartung and others have also voiced alarm over the Biden administration’s approval of the transfer of munitions including 2,000-pound bombs, which Israel has used extensively in Gaza with devastating results.

In one of the deadliest bombings of the war, Israel dropped multiple 2,000-pound bombs on the Jabalia refugee camp on Oct. 31, killing at least 126 civilians including 69 children.

Some of the worst Israeli atrocities perpetrated during the 180-day war have involved aerial attacks by missiles, drones, and warplanes. 

Robert Pape, a U.S. military historian and University of Chicago professor, said in December that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza “sits comfortably in the top quartile of the most devastating bombing campaigns ever,” and that by some measures, surpasses the Allied “terror bombing” of German cities during World War II.

An analysis published Tuesday by the World Bank and United Nations found that the Israeli onslaught on Gaza has caused approximately $18.5 billion in damage to essential infrastructure in the embattled strip, equivalent to nearly the entire gross domestic product of both Gaza and the occupied West Bank in 2022. 

Human rights and Palestine advocates have called for an arms embargo on Israel. However, the Biden administration is seeking an emergency military aid package for Israel worth more than $14 billion and has repeatedly bypassed Congress to fast-track armed assistance to Israel — which already receives nearly $4 billion in U.S. military aid annually. Israel imports nearly 70 percent of its arms from the United States.

Since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and later the Leahy Laws, the U.S. government has been statutorily prohibited from providing assistance to foreign security forces who commit gross human rights violations.

However, this has not stopped Washington from supporting rights violators — including dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the perpetrators of genocides in Paraguay, Guatemala, Bangladesh, East Timor, Kurdistan, and Gaza — since these laws were enacted.

The Biden administration says Israel is not violating international law in Gaza. During a contentious Tuesday press conference, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby was asked by Niall Stanage, the associate editor of The Hill, if “firing a missile at people delivering food and killing them” is “a violation of international humanitarian law.”

Kirby replied: “The State Department has a process in place. And to date, as you and I are speaking, they have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law.”

Last month, 25 humanitarian groups urged the Biden administration to comply with U.S. law by suspending arms sales to Israel.

“U.S. weapons, security assistance, and blanket political support have contributed to an unparalleled humanitarian crisis and possible war crimes in Gaza,” the groups wrote in a letter to the president.

“We demand that you urgently comply with U.S. law, end U.S. support for catastrophic human suffering in Gaza, and use your leverage to protect civilians and ensure the impartial provision of humanitarian assistance.”

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

10 comments for “Biden’s Push for $18 Billion in Warplane Sale to Israel

  1. Andrew Nichols
    April 5, 2024 at 19:36

    Kirby replied: “The State Department has a process in place. And to date, as you and I are speaking, they have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law.”

    This surely is the real cause of Havan Syndrome. The headaches are the physical manifestation of moral injury suffered by US diplomats and spokesmonsters from having to sustain a career of endless lies and depraved utterances. What a total c..nt!

  2. James P
    April 4, 2024 at 13:36

    Studies have shown that only one jet fighter is required in order to kill unarmed civilians.

  3. JonnyJames
    April 4, 2024 at 13:35

    No worries, the MassMediaCartel says that our only “choice” is DT or JB. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy only offers two Zionist, genocidal, cognitively-challenged geriatrics as meaningful choice. (Robert Jr. is also a genocidal Zionist) Most do and think what the oligarchy-owned “media” tell them. When they say “jump”, you say…

    Maybe Gavin Newsom? He is also a genocidal, warmongering Zionist. But he pretends to care about Indigenous folks, African Americans, LGBTQ+ AND he is tall, handsome, bleachy-white teeth, has good hair and talks a slick line of BS. Silly me, he is a PERFECT candidate for the D faction.

    All these so-called liberals pretend to care about working class, poor, so-called minorities etc. while supporting racist policies that mass murder non-whites by the hundreds of thousands. George Carlin morbidly joked how the US was really good at mass murdering “brown people” across the globe. The rank hypocrisy is sickening, as usual. At least the right-wing are more transparent about their racism, warmongering and sociopathy.

    Jill Stein? Ajamu Baraka? These folks are genuinely anti-war and anti-Zionist. Sadly, because of D/R dominance, corruption, BigMoney and the MediaCartel gatekeepers, they will not have a snowball’s chance to win the BigMoneyMedia popularity contest as few will even know who they are. The MassMedia will frame them as “wasting your vote” “helping DT” or they are “not viable candidates”

    There is no way to “vote” against the interests of the oligarchy (or AIPAC). Maybe some nation-wide protest to demand meaningful choice are in order? Or are we just going to make excuses for Genocide Joe because Orange Hitler?

  4. Renate
    April 4, 2024 at 12:29

    War criminals govern the nation, never in my wildest dreams could I imagine how vile and evil they are.

  5. Drew Hunkins
    April 4, 2024 at 12:18

    “Palestine advocates on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration for pushing Congress to approve the sale of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel”

    This would be borderline comical if 30,000+ civilians weren’t just murdered by the creepy Zionist sadists. The US taxpayer doesn’t per se “sell” anything to Israel. We give them just about all of the assets and funds their entire artificial country runs on. The creepy Zionist sadists in Israel then turn around and use our tax dollars to buy weaponry made by the U.S. war merchants.

    “the U.S. State Department has informally asked two congressional committees to begin the legislative review process for the deal.”

    This also would be borderline comical if 30,000+ civilians weren’t recently killed by the creepy Zionist sadists. The Zios use the money we gift them to fund every one of these congressional members’ campaigns. Ergo, that “review process” will certainly be massively thorough, critical, and vigorous, massively! (sarcasm)

  6. Selina Sweet
    April 4, 2024 at 11:31

    I sure am curious about who – around Biden – fuels his abject blindness to Israel’s collective moral racist depravity (historically into the present) and
    its character writ large en Bibi’s mad doggedness? Surely, there must be some strong cheerleaders filling his ears with
    “carry on” “carry on”…”you’re our hero, carry on.” As Biden sends bombs, bullets, advisers and now war planes to a country
    running off the rails as a world pariah and the epitomy of bullheaded, arrogant, self-centered, self-serving recklessness.

  7. susan
    April 4, 2024 at 11:21

    Good lord, what is wrong with this man? He is already taking more food off our tables, increasing rates on everything we buy, taking away our affordable housing, not fixing our infrastructure or giving our crucial government agencies enough funding – all so he can help murder the Palestinians and threaten the middle east? What a braindead nincompoop…

  8. Jeff Harrison
    April 4, 2024 at 11:03

    First of all, they’re Boeing F-15s since McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged in 1998. Secondly, all the ‘D’ models we sold to Israel and these would almost certainly be ‘E’ models, came with the nuclear consent switch installed. Thirdly, the Israelis won’t be paying for those aircraft. They will be an FMS case where the USG pays Boeing and the Israelis are supposed to pay the USG back. That won’t happen.

  9. Lois Gagnon
    April 4, 2024 at 10:47

    You are required to behave as a soulless automaton to work for the US government. It doesn’t get more dystopian than this.

  10. Dfnslblty
    April 4, 2024 at 09:28

    Ignorance and shame…

    Teachers, nurses, even youth could think of better uses for $18b than giving bombs to murderous states.

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