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US to give one billion dollars in arms deal to Israel, congressional aides say

The pause on weapons transfers to Israel is over.

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The Biden administration has told key lawmakers it is sending a new package of more than one billion dollars (£794 million) in arms and ammunition to Israel, three congressional aides said on Tuesday.

It is the first arms shipment to Israel to be announced by the administration since it put another arms transfer — consisting of 3,500 bombs — on hold earlier in the month.

The administration has said it paused that earlier transfer to keep Israel from using the bombs in its growing offensive in the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinians rescuers dig around the body of a man in the rubble of a building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Nuseirat, Gaza (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

The aides said the package being sent includes about 700 million dollars (£556 million) for tank ammunition, 500 million dollars (£397 million) in tactical vehicles, and 60 million dollars (£47 million)  in mortar rounds.

There was no immediate indication of when the arms would be sent. Israel is now seven months into its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the plans to move the package.

House Republicans were planning this week to advance a Bill to mandate the delivery of offensive weaponry for Israel. Following Mr Biden’s move to put a pause on bomb shipments last week, Republicans have been swift in their condemnation, arguing it represents the abandonment of the closest US ally in the Middle East.

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Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip (Leo Correa/AP)

However, House Democrats are somewhat divided on the issue, and roughly two dozen have signed a letter to Mr Biden’s administration saying they were “deeply concerned about the message” sent by pausing the bomb shipment.

According to an administration official, in addition to the written veto threat, the White House has contacted various lawmakers and congressional aides about the legislation.

“We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the President’s ability to deploy US security assistance consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week, adding that the administration plans to spend “every last cent” appropriated by Congress in the national security supplemental package that was signed into law by Mr Biden last month.

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