Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday defended the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition and also called for quick congressional approval of more than $100 billion in aid for Israel, Ukraine and other national security priorities.
Blinken said the needs of Israel's military operations in Gaza justify the rare decision to bypass Congress. “Israel is in combat right now with Hamas,” he said during television interviews. “And we want to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Hamas."
The tank ammunition and related support constitute only a small portion of military sales to Israel, Blinken said, and that the rest remains subject to congressional review. "It’s very important that Congress‘s voice be heard in this,” he said.
The decision to proceed with the sale of more than $106 million for tank shells came as the Biden administration's larger aid package is caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.
Blinken noted that President Joe Biden has said he is willing to make significant compromises to get the aid package moving. ``It’s something the president is fully prepared to engage on," Blinken said.
The stakes are especially high for Ukraine, America's top diplomat said, given that “we are running out of funding” for the Ukranians.
"This is a time to really step up because if we don’t, we know what happens. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will be able to move forward with impunity and we know he won't stop in Ukraine.”
Blinken appeared on ABC's “This Week” and CNN's “State of the Union.”