The U.S. State Department has granted approval for the immediate sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel, costing approximately $106.5 million, according to an announcement from the Biden administration on Saturday.
The decision, made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, invoked an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act, deeming it necessary for U.S. national security interests. This move circumvents the usual congressional review process for foreign military sales and is a rare occurrence, utilized by administrations when urgent weapons delivery is deemed essential.
The munitions, drawn from U.S. Army inventory, consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges and related equipment, as detailed in a Pentagon statement.
This development comes as President Joe Biden's request for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other national security priorities faces delays in Congress, entangled in discussions on U.S. immigration policy and border security.
The urgency of the ammunition sale to Israel coincides with the Biden administration's efforts to address escalating tensions in the region, while concurrently navigating domestic legislative challenges.
"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," a statement issued by the State Department said.
The shells are reportedly a component of a larger package exceeding $500 million, for which the White House is seeking approval from the U.S. Congress. This comprehensive deal encompasses 45,000 shells designated for Israel's Merkava tanks.