What is stopping Biden govt from pushing the 'no arms aid to Israel' button?

Sushim Mukul
Sushim MukulDec 06, 2023 | 12:53

What is stopping Biden govt from pushing the 'no arms aid to Israel' button?

United States provides $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel annually. Photo: dailyO

In the face of mounting Gazan civilian casualties from intense Israeli offensives, the Biden administration is treading carefully in its calls for restraint on the Israel-Hamas war. On the one hand, the USA is carrying on aiding the Israeli onslaught, and on the other, there are public calls from the Biden administration to minimise the killing of Gazans.

Vice-President Kamala Harris, in a "forceful tone", advocated for caution on the part of Israeli forces, reported the New York Times. As the IDF moves to a new phase to eliminate Hamas in Southern Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, too urged Israel to conduct a precise "surgical offensive", saying "massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the south".


US continues arms aid to Israel

However, the Biden administration and its top officials stopped short of threatening to restrict military aid. Washington's current approach involves private negotiations rather than overt measures, Reuters reported.

  • According to Reuters, the United States provides significant military aid to Israel, amounting to $3.8 billion annually.
  • The US House of Representatives, on Tuesday, December 5, passed a Republican plan to give $14.5 billion in military aid to Israel, reported Al Jazeera.
  • Speaking about the potential US threat, Seth Binder, Director of Advocacy at The Project on Middle East Democracy, told Reuters that the US has "significant leverage".
  • But, instead of using it, the US is pouring in more dollars.
  • Meanwhile the US Department of State, on Tuesday, December 5, said that it will impose visa restrictions on Israeli settlers who undermine peace, security and stability in the West Bank, reported Al Jazeera.

Ophir Falk, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's foreign policy adviser, told Reuters that the PM feels minimal pressure and remains committed to achieving military goals.

Why though?

  • Biden faces conflicting pressures, with the 2024 presidential election looming.
  • Some Democrats within his party are pushing for conditions on military aid and immediate support for a ceasefire.
  • Thus, any attempt at hitting the pause button might sway the pro-Israel independent voters away from him as he seeks re-election.
  • Biden's dilemma is evident as senior aides emphasise restraint while being mindful of the political consequences.
  • Biden and the US, with a heavy military presence and high stakes in West Asia, cannot let it slip away from its hand in a hasty decision.

Therefore, the US continues its unwavering support for Israel. Responding to this, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said that the US "sees eye to eye" with Israel in its war against Hamas.

Humanitarian situation

  • According to Gaza's health ministry, as of December 4, at least 15,899 Palestinians have lost their lives in Israeli airstrikes during eight weeks of war, with 70% being women or minors, reported Reuters.
  • Amnesty International, on Tuesday, December 5, reported that US-made munitions killed 43 Gaza civilians in two Israeli air strikes.
Last updated: December 06, 2023 | 12:53
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