May 16, 2024 | Flash Brief

Biden Blocks Arms to Israel While Promising Future Support

May 16, 2024 | Flash Brief

Biden Blocks Arms to Israel While Promising Future Support

Latest Developments

The Biden administration notified Congress on May 14 of a future $1 billion arms package for Israel. That package reportedly includes “$700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds,” according to The Wall Street Journal. However, there is no timetable for when such weapons will get to Israel and the notification does not lift the administration’s previous hold on weapons that are ready to ship.

On May 7, the administration announced that it was pausing weapons shipments to Israel over Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah. Those weapons — which reportedly include Mk82 500-pound bombs, Mk84 2,000-pound bombs, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions — are ready for shipment but are being delayed for “political reasons,” according to reports.

Expert Analysis

“In deliberately delaying weapons deliveries for Israel, the Biden administration has made a major strategic mistake. American allies and adversaries around the world are taking notes and asking what other ‘ironclad’ U.S. commitments might actually be squishy when the going gets tough. Hezbollah is taking notes on what worked in Gaza and Washington, DC, and is almost certainly sprinting to install more of its terror facilities under civilian homes in Lebanon at this very hour.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“What good is a promise for a future transfer when the president is currently refusing to transfer weapons that were already approved and are ready to ship?” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“That Congress recently approved supplemental funding crucial for Israel to dismantle Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza — only to have the Biden administration undercut that effort by withholding armaments that are critically important to it — merits a strong congressional response. Congress must intervene and act if the administration fails to fulfill its obligation and swiftly deliver these vital resources. Congress must also develop additional legislative measures to ensure that it does not happen again.” — Matthew Zweig, Senior Director of Policy at FDD Action

Backlash in the House of Representatives

On May 10, twenty-six Democrats, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Jared Golden (D-ME), sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan urging the administration to fulfill Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel. “With democracy under assault around the world, we cannot undermine our ally Israel, especially in her greatest hour of need,” the letter states. “America’s commitments must always be ironclad.”

The same day, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, introduced legislation that prohibits the Biden administration from withholding, halting, reversing, or otherwise canceling “the delivery of defense articles and defense services from the United States to Israel.” The Israeli Security Assistance Support Act also withholds funding for the offices of the secretary of defense and secretary of state until weapons deliveries resume.

Backlash in the Senate

On May 9, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and 11 other Republican senators introduced a resolution condemning the Biden administration’s arms embargo and demanding that weapons shipments resume. Every Republican senator except Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cosponsored the resolution.

“The last thing we want to do is to reward terrorists — who violate international norms by weaponizing hospitals, mosques and schools — by blaming the victim of the terrorist attack, not the terrorists,” Graham said in a statement. “If this policy holds, terrorists will get the message loud and clear that if they exploit civilians in this manner, terrorists will get a pass and their victims will be punished.”

Biden turns on Israel,” by Clifford D. May

Reports Claim U.S. Delaying Munitions to Send Message to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Biden Faces Bipartisan Criticism for Withholding Key Arms from Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

How to Ensure Israel Has the Weapons it Needs,” by Bradley Bowman and Richard Goldberg


Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy