Report: U.S. stiffening oversight on missile sales to Israel


(JTA) — The United States is tightening controls on military sales to Israel in the wake of the conflict in Gaza.

On July 20, days after Israel began its ground invasion in Gaza, Israel requested and received a shipment of munitions from the Pentagon without prior approval from the White House, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While Defense Department officials say both sides followed established protocol, the newspaper reported that White House officials were upset that the military did not get White House approval before sending the shipment. The request came as the U.S. urged Israeli restraint in its Gaza operation and days before Israel rebuffed a cease-fire proposal from Secretary of State John Kerry on July 25.

The Obama administration put a subsequent missile shipment on hold. It is now requiring that the White House review every Israeli weapons request rather than having the U.S. Defense Department and Israeli Defense Ministry handle transactions directly.

The Journal reported that an Obama administration official called the change equivalent to “the United States saying ‘The buck stops here. Wait a second … It’s not OK anymore.’ ”

Relations have been tense between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Obama administration throughout the conflict, which began on July 8. But Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said relations between the two governments were strong.

“Israel deeply appreciates the support we have received during the recent conflict in Gaza from both the Obama administration and the Congress for Israel’s right to defend itself and for increased funding of Iron Dome,” Israel’s U.S.-funded missile defense system, Dermer said, according to the Journal.

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