Biden’s Arms Deal with Israel Delights US Arms Dealers

November 27th, 2023 - by Win Without War & Women for Weapons Trade Transparency

I think really across the entire Raytheon portfolio, you’re going to see a benefit
– Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes on a Q3 Earnings Call, October 24, 2023

CEOs of Biggest US War Corps Are Excited
Win Without War

(November 26, 2023) — That’s right, just weeks ago, with hundreds of hostages captive, thousands already killed, and an Israeli military siege of Gaza just beginning, Raytheon’s CEO shamelessly promoted war as good for business.

A fragile ceasefire is in place today, but what happens tomorrow is unclear. Meanwhile, settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank are increasing and strikes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah have displaced thousands of people in Lebanon.

While we fight for peace, the war lobby is scheming ways to grow their profits. Arms control activists recently discovered an unprecedented effort to waive transparency requirements on BILLION-dollar weapons sales to the Israeli government in the fine print of a funding supplemental. [1] Josh Paul, a former director at the State Department, called the legislative provision an “insult to Congressional oversight prerogatives”.

A war profiteer’s fingerprints are all over a move like this — so to stop it, we need to go toe-to-toe with the war lobby. We don’t have billion-dollar profit margins, but we do have a half-a-million-strong movement of activists (that’s you!) on our side. That’s why when we connect you with lawmakers during a huge anti-war lobby day in the coming weeks, we know they’ll listen. Why? Because at the end of the day, people like YOU — not Greg Hayes — decide if political leaders keep their jobs.

To build the political space that can save lives we need to go further, and fast to speak out for peace and justice over war and profit.

We’ve already covered DC in thousands of “Save Lives. Ceasefire Now!” posters, held a temporary memorial on the National Mall to remind the world about the human toll of this war and met with members of Congress and key decision-makers to urge an immediate de-escalation of the conflict. Our actions are making a real and crucial impact.

The problem? It’s not enough, not yet.

Right now, while we fight to sustain a ceasefire that can save lives, weapons lobbyists will be heading to the Hill to tell the lie that more bombs and missiles are what will keep people safe. You and I both know the only thing more weapons get us is more war. But with geopolitical tensions on a knife’s edge everywhere from the Middle East to Europe to the Pacific, weapons contractors are set to make it big, AGAIN.

It’s not just the bombs that kill we need to be worried about — we’ve also got to stop them from turning their billion-dollar profits into influence. There’s only one answer: People Power.

Here’s our plan: If we raise enough funds now, we can fly impacted community members from Israel and Palestine, along with constituents from across the country — activists like you — into DC for our biggest anti-war lobby day ever.

Together, we’ll reaffirm our call for a ceasefire that can return all the hostages to their families, demand the Israeli government end its collective punishment of Gaza, and push every member of Congress to work toward a sustainable and just peace for people in Israel and Palestine.

We can’t do it alone. Our team is working with a growing coalition of activists and civil society organizations committed to ending the violence in Israel and Gaza — and to do it, we have to push back on the corrupt stranglehold that weapons contractors have on our priorities. This fly-in effort can cost upwards of $25,000.

A world where everyone can live and thrive without the fear of violence — in other words, a true, and lasting peace — is possible. Right now that looks like reuniting hostages with their loved ones, ending the Israeli government’s violent collective punishment, and focusing decision-makers on solutions that recognize dignity and humanity.

Thank you for working for peace,
The Win Without War team


The measure gives Israel a $3.5 billion check to purchase arms in complete secrecy.

White House Requests “Unprecedented” Loophole
That Would Obscure Weapons Sales to Israel

Janet Abou-Elias, Lillian Mauldin, Mekedas Belayneh, Rosie Khan, Liv Owens and Women for Weapons Trade Transparency / In These Times

(November 2, 2023) — Buried within the $106 billion supplemental national security funding request the White House sent to Congress on October 20 was a highly unusual exemption. As part of $3.5 billion earmarked for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funding for Israel, the executive branch sought permission to unilaterally blanket-approve the future sale of military equipment and weapons—like ballistic missiles and artillery ammunition — to Israel without notifying Congress.

This means the Israeli government would be able to purchase up to $3.5 billion in military articles and services in complete secrecy. The House included the waiver language in a bill that splits off Israeli military aid from the rest of the package.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Josh Paul, former director of congressional and public affairs for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. Paul recently resigned in protest against the administration’s plans to rush weapons to Israel. ​“A proposal in a legislative request to Congress to waive Congressional notification entirely for FMF-funded Foreign Military Sales or Direct Commercial Contracts is unprecedented in my experience. … Frankly, [it’s] an insult to Congressional oversight prerogatives.”

FMF requests like this one are essentially grantsto purchase weapons and defense services from the United States and its defense contractors. Even after Congress approves an FMF request, it still has power over how the money is spent and can deny major arms sales.

The Congressional approval process also serves another purpose — it creates a public record to ensure transparency. Notifications to Congress appear in the Federal Register, which is accessible to the public. In addition, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) publishes press releases for major arms sales on its website. These public postings are often the only way that journalists, watchdog groups, and arms control experts can learn of and track weapons sales.

“It’s also redundant with existing laws,” Paul says. The White House can unilaterally approve foreign military sales in ​“emergency” situations but must notify Congress and provide a ​“detailed justification.” The Israel waiver does not require any communication with Congress.

“So this doesn’t actually reduce the time, it just reduces the oversight,” Paul says. ​“It removes that mechanism for Congress to actually understand what is being transferred at the time it is being transferred.” Paul adds that the language came from the White House and received ​“pushback” within the executive branch.

Administrative shortcuts can erode the State Department vetting process and increase the likelihood of sales to military units that commit gross human rights violations. Such sales violate the Leahy Law under the Foreign Assistance Act.

The Trump administration drew fire from Congress in May 2019 when it invoked the existing emergency certification process to bypass congressional review of $8.1 billion in arms destined for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. An Office of Inspector General investigation later determined that the State Department did ​“not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer of [precision-guided munitions].”

Notably, although the Biden administration proposal is framed as an ​“emergency response,” it allows the funding to be used at any time before September 2025. The Israeli government can also set aside these funds for future use, beyond 2025, effectively giving Israel a blank pass for arms purchases without recurring Congressional notification.

The Biden administration is pushing Congress to pass the funding package quickly. The House split off $14.3 billion in Israel military aid — including the $3.5 billion FMF request and the waiver language — into a separate bill tied to cuts in IRS funding, which Biden says he will veto. The chairs of the Senate Committee on Appropriations chairs say they are drafting a bill to reflect Biden’s full request.

Overall, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, totaling $158 billion (in non-inflation-adjusted dollars) in economic and military aid. The supplemental funding request more than doubles Israel’s annual $3.3 billion in FMF.

Since the most recent escalated violence began on October 7, the Defense Department has expedited delivery of weapons to Israel from previously approved sales, including Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), 155mm artillery shells and nearly a million rounds of ammunition. JDAMs are used as ​“smart” guidance attachments to MK-80 series bombs. During Israel’s 2014bombing campaign in Gaza, its military mostly used U.S.-made MK-84one-ton bombs. An independent UN commission investigating the war concluded that the use of those bombs ​“constitute a violation of the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks.” With $3.5 billion, the Israeli military could acquire over 116,000 JDAMs without Congressional notification or public disclosure.

“The waiver would further undermine meaningful scrutiny of weapons sales on Capitol Hill at a time when U.S. support is enabling bombings that have killed thousands of civilians,” says John Ramming Chappell, U.S. advocacy and legal fellow at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

“Legislators should reject the White House’s request for an open-ended notification waiver for arms sales to Israel in the emergency supplemental. Instead, members of Congress should push the State Department and the Pentagon for greater transparency on weapons transfers to Israel to understand how the U.S. is contributing to civilian harm and possible war crimes. With the Biden administration apparently reluctant to restrict weapons use or monitor international law compliance, it’s up to Congress to put effective restrictions in place.”

This article was supported by a grant from the Leonard C. Goodman Center for Investigative Reporting.

Related News
“Biden seeks to expand Israeli access to US weapons stockpile.” If White House request granted, it would enable Israel to access US weapons with less congressional oversight. Al Jazeera, November 26, 2023.