Emergency Sale Authorization
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has officially notified Congress of the authorization to sell tank cartridges to Israel. The certification was delivered on Friday, indicating the urgency of the situation. The State Department stated that the Government of Israel has requested the purchase of 13,981 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges.
Supporting Documentation and Services
In addition to the tank cartridges, the proposed sale includes publications, technical documentation, and various support services such as engineering, technical, and logistics support. The United States will also provide studies, surveys, and other related elements of logistics and program support to ensure the smooth integration of the equipment into Israel’s armed forces.
Justification for the Sale
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has determined that an emergency exists, warranting the immediate sale of the defense articles and services to the Government of Israel. Blinken provided detailed justification to Congress, waiving the Congressional review requirements under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act. The State Department emphasized that this emergency sale is in the national security interests of the United States.
Commitment to Israel’s Security
The press release reiterated the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security, stating that it is of vital importance to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. The proposed sale is consistent with these objectives and aims to enhance Israel’s deterrent capabilities against regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense. Importantly, the sale is not expected to alter the basic military balance in the region.
Context and Congressional Debate
This emergency sale comes at a time when President Biden’s request for a $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other national security interests is facing challenges in Congress. The aid package has become entangled in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security. Some Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about providing assistance to Israel, urging concrete steps to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza during the recent conflict with Hamas.
Rarity of Bypassing Congressional Review
Bypassing the congressional review requirement for foreign military sales is a rare step taken by administrations. However, it is not unprecedented when there is a pressing need to deliver weapons without waiting for lawmakers’ approval. The State Department clarified that this sale will be from U.S. Army inventory and will not require the assignment of additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Israel. It also assured that there will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness.
The use of emergency determinations to bypass Congress for arms sales has occurred on several occasions in the past. Notably, President George H.W. Bush’s administration employed this authority during the Gulf War to expedite arms delivery to Saudi Arabia. While such actions have faced resistance from lawmakers, they have been deemed necessary in urgent situations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.