Biden Approves $735 Million in Arms Sales to Israel
May 18, 2021 (EIRNS)—President Joe Biden signed off on a $735 million arms sale to Israel, thus eliminating the biggest potential pressure point to get Israel to agree to a ceasefire in their mass bombardment of Gaza. The decision to approve the sale was already made on May 5, prior to the beginning of the current conflict, but was signed only Monday, May 17. Biden approved it despite opposition from some Democrats. The sale includes Joint Direct Attack Munitions, so they will replace the weapons the Israelis have been deploying against Hamas.
Commenting on the report, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said the sale should not be completed “while crimes against humanity are being committed with our backing. It would be appalling for the Biden Administration to go through with $735 million in precision-guided weaponry to Netanyahu without any strings attached in the wake of escalating violence and attacks on civilians,” she said in a statement. She added the obvious: “If this goes through, this will be seen as a green light for continued escalation and will undercut any attempts at brokering a ceasefire.”
Meanwhile, Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which, according to the official statement by the White House, “The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The President expressed his support for a ceasefire.”
The obvious bottom line is that Biden will support a ceasefire when Netanyahu says he is ready, when he has made more “progress” in killing Palestinians.
The body count has reached 212, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry on May 17, including 61 children, 35 women, and 16 elderly people.
Warning that the conflict threatens to expand to the entire region, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov conveyed that,
“Obviously, the conflict poses a danger in the event of its uncontrolled growth and continuation, as many countries have quite difficult relations.... And the regional security system is quite fragile in general ... it is highly important to prevent the events from being transformed into a forceful scenario. Therefore, a very energetic effort is being made by the Quartet ... to stop the exchange of strikes.”
The Middle East Quartet of international mediators are the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations.
A day of rage was declared on the West Bank, with the Palestinian ruling faction, Fatah, calling for confrontations with Israeli security forces. Monday evening, armed men marched through the streets of Ramallah in preparation for the day of rage.
Now the conflict threatens to spread to Lebanon, as it is reported that at least two missiles were fired yesterday from Tyre city in southern Lebanon towards Jewish settlements, according to the Lebanese TV network Al Jadeed, reported TASS yesterday. It is not yet clear whether they crossed the border. On May 13, five missiles were fired from the area of Qlaileh towards the settlements of Nahariya and Shlomi. Two of them landed in Lebanon and three fell into the sea.
The threat of civil war between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews continues to grow. The former declared a nationwide general strike on May 18 to protest Israel’s military campaign on Gaza and recent tensions within the country. It was initiated by the Arab High Follow-Up Committee, led by former Knesset member Mohammad Barakeh, and focused mainly on Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers. The strike was almost uniformly joined by Palestinians.