The Biden administration is discussing using weaponry sales to Israel as leverage to convince the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to heed long-standing U.S. calls to scale back its military assault in the Gaza Strip, according to three current U.S. officials and one former U.S. official familiar with the discussions.
At the direction of the White House, the Pentagon has been reviewing what weaponry Israel has requested that could be used as leverage, officials said. They said no decisions have been made.
The sources said Israeli officials continue to ask the administration for more weapons, including large aerial bombs, ammunition and air defenses. After weeks of private administration requests produced fewer results than the White House wants, the sources said, the U.S. is considering slowing or pausing the delivery of certain weapons in the hope that doing so will prod the Israelis to take action, such as opening humanitarian corridors to provide more aid to Palestinian civilians.
Among the weaponry the U.S. has discussed using as leverage are 155 mm artillery rounds and joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs), which are guidance kits that convert dumb bombs into precision-guided munitions, the officials familiar with the discussions said. The officials said the administration is likely to continue to provide other conversion kits that make Israeli munitions more precise.
Officials said they are not likely to slow the delivery of air defenses, though the idea was considered, as well as other systems that can defend Israeli civilians and infrastructure from attack. The administration is focused on offensive military equipment in its review of what it could possibly withhold or delay.
Administration officials have also discussed offering the Israeli government more of the weapons it has requested as an incentive to take some steps that the U.S. has requested, officials said. [Continue reading…]