Biden Admin Signals Partial Reversal, Will Push Ahead With Arms Package Bound For Israel

The previously withheld 2,000 lb bombs may not be a part of the deal.
STURTEVANT, WISCONSIN - MAY 08: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives for an event at Gateway Technical College’s iMet Center on May 08, 2024 in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. During the event, Biden spoke about Microsoft’s plan to invest $3.3 billion to build an artificial intelligence data center in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s administration announced on Tuesday that a $1 billion military arms package bound for Israel would be moving ahead — marking at least a partial reversal after a shipment of bombs was halted last week over Israel’s decision to move on Rafah.

Biden halted the shipment of larger bombs last week — and threatened the possibility that he could withhold future weapons shipments — just days after promising that his support of Israel in its ongoing war against Hamas terrorists was “ironclad.”

According to a report published by The Wall Street Journal, the current package could include the “potential transfer of $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds” — but may stop short of including the 2,000 lb bombs that were in the shipment that Biden withheld.

After halting that shipment, Biden again voiced his opposition to Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah — the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza — and suggested that although he planned to continue to supply Israel with defensive weapons, he could potentially withhold future weapons shipments if Israeli forces were to invade the more dense population areas.

“We are continuing to send military assistance. We have paused a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs because we don’t believe they should be dropped in densely populated cities,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said early last week, prompting a wave of backlash from the public and from some in Congress.

A number of Democrats voiced concern over Biden’s decision, including Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), who said, “Hard disagree and deeply disappointing.”


House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said at the time that he hoped Biden’s comments amounted to a “senior moment” rather than a policy position.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) added, “As the leader of the free world, America cannot claim that its commitment to Israel is ‘iron-clad’ and then proceed to withhold aid from Israel. The mixed messaging makes a mockery of our credibility as an ally. No one will take our word seriously.”

Mixed messages, according to Seth Binder (an expert on U.S. weapons sales with the Middle East Democracy Center), may still be a problem for Biden — especially since he announced his support for the current arms deal so soon after holding one back.

“This is just another example of them muddying their message and undermining any real strength behind the hold,” he said, arguing that if Biden wanted to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he might be going about it the wrong way.

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