President Joe Biden is moving to permanently lift nearly all safeguards on weapons transfers to Israel in a request that would essentially create a “free-flowing pipeline” of weapons to the country as it massacres Palestinians at a rate that is nearly unprecedented in modern times.
The White House request pertains to a stockpile of weapons that the U.S. holds in Israel that Israel is normally allowed to use under specific and limited circumstances, known as the War Reserve Stockpile Allies-Israel (WRSA-I). WRSA-I is used by the U.S. as a stockpile of weapons for use in conflicts in the Middle East and beyond and is the largest of several global stockpiles maintained by the U.S.
As The Intercept reports, the White House has requested that nearly all restrictions on the use of the stockpile be lifted for Israel, ensuring that Israel has access to an even larger cache of weapons than it already has. This is on top of the deluge of weapons that the U.S. has already sent to Israel in recent weeks and years, including a supply of Hellfire missiles made by Lockheed Martin that have been used in Israel’s recent genocidal assault on Gaza, according to a leaked list obtained by Bloomberg earlier this month.
The restrictions that officials are seeking to nix, The Intercept found, include waiving the $200 million annual spending cap used to replenish the stockpile through 2024 — meaning that the weapons would flow, nearly unlimited, to Israel through the stockpile. Other requests include removing restrictions on excess or surplus weapons and on certain other weapons.
The White House sought these changes in its supplementary budget request sent to Congress on October 20 — in which Biden officials also requested for such weapon deals to be done without congressional or public oversight. Legislation containing these requests has passed the House and is awaiting approval by the Senate.
Former State Department official Josh Paul, who worked on U.S. arms transfers before resigning due to the U.S.’s recent policies regarding Israel’s genocide in Gaza, told The Intercept that lifting these restrictions would give Israel extraordinary access to U.S. weapons.
Biden’s budget request, Paul said, “would essentially create a free-flowing pipeline to provide any defense articles to Israel by the simple act of placing them in the WRSA-I stockpile, or other stockpiles intended for Israel.”
Other experts agreed. “If enacted, the amendments would create a two-step around restrictions on U.S. weapons transfers to Israel,” John Ramming Chappell, a legal fellow for the Center for Civilians in Conflict, told The Intercept.
These requests come as Israel’s assault is killing Palestinians in Gaza at a pace not seen in this century, experts have said, as Israel uses weapons on densely populated civilian areas that are typically deemed too destructive or heavy for urban areas. So far, Israeli forces have killed at least 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 6,150 children.
Bombs and artillery are not the only weapons that Israel is using against Palestinians in Gaza; Israel has also launched a horrific assault on Palestinians’ ability to meet their basic human needs by blockading water, food, power and medical supplies from the region. And Israel’s assault on hospitals and other medical centers is creating bioweapons of sorts as the World Health Organization has warned that more people will die from disease than from bombings if the health and sanitation systems in Gaza aren’t repaired.
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