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Biden administration looking to slow weapon sales to Israel in effort to scale back military assault: Report

The Biden administration is looking into slowing down weapons sales to Israel in an effort to scale back its military operations in Gaza, according to a report by NBC News.

NBC News reported the Biden administration is discussing slowing down some of the weapon deliveries to Israel to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back his military assault in Gaza, citing three current U.S. officials and one former official. The sources told NBC the administration is determining what possible weaponry can be used as leverage against Netanyahu, but no final decision has been made.

The U.S. has supported Israel in its war against militant group Hamas since the group attacked Israel last October but tensions between Biden and Netanyahu have increasingly become public on the world stage, particularly over who controls Gaza after the war and disagreement over a two-state solution.

The Biden administration asked Congress for $10.6 billion in additional assistance to Israel in a supplemental funding request last year, but the full request remains stagnant in Congress as senators try to hash out a border security deal as part of the package request. The Biden administration has twice approved emergency sales of weapons to Israel, which bypassed congressional review.

A White House official told The Hill there “has been no request” from the White House for the Department of Defense to slow down any weapon deliveries to Israel. The official also said the White House was not aware of any request that would review what weapons it would potentially “slow walk.”

According to NBC’s sources, Israeli officials have continued to ask the U.S. for more weapons, including aerial bombs, ammunition and air defenses. Officials have discussed using 155 mm artillery rounds and joint direct attack munitions as leverage to get Israel to open up humanitarian corridors for civilians, NBC News reported.

The outlet noted administration officials are more focused on potentially slowing down offensive weaponry rather than defensive weaponry like air defenses. Officials also considered offering Israel more of the weapons it asked for as an incentive to get them to agree to some of the U.S.’s requests, the report said.

The U.S. has been increasing pressure on Israel to scale back its operations in Gaza and take measures to protect civilian life. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said earlier this month it was the “right time” for Israel to scale back its war in Gaza.

The sources told NBC that administration officials are frustrated that Israel has not always heeded their calls to minimize threats to civilians.

A national security spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the U.S. has not changed its policy in its approach to Israel.

“As the President has made clear, he believes that the approach he has pursued has been more effective,” the spokesperson said. “Israel has a right and obligation to defend themselves against the threat of Hamas, while abiding by international humanitarian law and protecting civilian lives, and we remain committed to support Israel in its fight against Hamas. We have done so since Oct 7, and will continue to. There is no change to our policy.”

When reached for comment, a Defense Department official said the U.S. is committed to the security of Israel, which includes the “provision of U.S.-origin security articles.” The official did not comment on whether ongoing discussions are taking place about potentially slowing down weapons sales.

“Per administration policy, these are provided to Israel without condition noting that as with all U.S. arms exports, this assistance is provided with the expectation that Israel operates within the framework of International Humanitarian Law,” the official said.

The official also said the Defense Department “maintains a robust dialogue with Israel that seeks to expand humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and minimize instances of civilian harm.”

–Updated at 1:15 p.m.

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