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State Dept. OKs Sale of Tank Ammunition12/10 09:29


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Going around Congress, the Biden administration said 
Saturday it has approved the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds 
of tank ammunition worth more than $106 million as Israel intensifies its 
military operations in the southern Gaza Strip.

   The move comes as President Joe Biden's request for a nearly $106 billion 
aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security is languishing in 
Congress, caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border 
security. Some Democratic lawmakers have spoken of making the proposed $14.3 
billion in American assistance to its Mideast ally contingent on concrete steps 
by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to reduce civilian 
casualties in Gaza during the war with Hamas.

   The State Department said it had notified Congress of the sale late Friday 
after Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined "an emergency exists that 
requires the immediate sale" of the munitions in the U.S. national security 

   That means the purchase will bypass the congressional review requirement for 
foreign military sales. Such determinations are rare, but not unprecedented, 
when administrations see an urgent need for weapons to be delivered without 
waiting for lawmakers' approval.

   "The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital 
to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong 
and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those 
objectives," the department said in a statement. "Israel will use the enhanced 
capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland 

   The sale is worth $106.5 million and includes 13,981 120 mm High Explosive 
Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer tank cartridges as well as U.S. support, 
engineering and logistics. The materiel will come from Army inventory.

   Bypassing Congress with emergency determinations for arms sales is an 
unusual step that has in the past met resistance from lawmakers, who normally 
have a period of time to weigh on proposed weapons transfers and, in some 
cases, block them.

   In May, 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an emergency 
determination for an $8.1 billion sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United 
Arab Emirates and Jordan after it became clear that the Trump administration 
would have trouble overcoming lawmakers' concerns about the Saudi- UAE-led war 
in Yemen.

   Pompeo came under heavy criticism for the move, which some believed may have 
violated the law because many of the weapons involved had yet to be built and 
could not be delivered urgently. But he was cleared of any wrongdoing after an 
internal investigation.

   At least four administrations have used the authority since 1979. President 
George H.W. Bush's administration used it during the Gulf War to get arms 
quickly to Saudi Arabia.

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