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US Foreign Affairs Committee head won’t urge White House delay to Israel arms deal

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US Rep. Gregory Meeks speaks during a news conference outside the USPS Jamaica station, August 18, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
US Rep. Gregory Meeks speaks during a news conference outside the USPS Jamaica station, August 18, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tells reporters that Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks will not be sending the White House a letter asking to delay a $735 million sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel.

“Chairman Meeks has indicated that he’s going to [instead] pursue discussions with the administration on this,” Hoyer says.

The comments come a day after Meeks told Democrats on his panel that he was considering the somewhat unprecedented measure of slowing a White House arms sale to Israel amid criticism from more progressive members on the committee who opposed the timing of the transfer in the middle of the ongoing Gaza escalation, a House staffer told The Times of Israel.

Those pushing back thought, at the very least, that the funds should be used as leverage to pressure Israel into agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas as the death toll continues to mount.

The Washington Post on Sunday broke the story regarding the weapons sale, about which the White House notified Congress on May 5 — five days before the Gaza escalation began. According to the staffer, several members of Meeks’s committee had not been aware of the notification before the Washington Post report. Congress has 15 days to raise objections to such sales once they’ve been notified.

Another congressional aide says that given that the procedures involved in delaying a purchase, the committee likely would not have been able to do so even if they wanted to, given that only two days remain before the deadline.

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