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US lawmakers pass bill to overturn halt to arms transfer to Israel

File photo shows the interior of the US House of Representatives.

Sixteen US Democratic lawmakers have joined Republicans to pass a bill that will force President Joe Biden’s administration to speed up approved arms shipments to Israel.

The move trumps the administration’s purported bid to halt weapons transfer to the regime in case of a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah

The bill was passed by a vote of 224-187 in the House of Representatives on Friday. To become law, it must pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The Biden administration said it would veto the bill as it “undermines” the president’s foreign policy.

The pro-Israel lawmakers who broke ranks with their party include vocal supporters of the occupying entity such as Lois Frankel, Jared Moskowitz, Josh Gottheimer and Ritchie Torres.

The 16 Democrats’ votes are indicative of their strong opposition to Biden’s decision to purportedly pause a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs worth over $1 billion to Israel amid the regime’s months-long war on Gaza.

Biden warned last week that he would delay the transfer of offensive bombs and artillery shells to Israel if the regime launched a full-scale aggression on Rafah, where around 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

Israel unleashed its US-backed war on Gaza on October 7, 2023, after Palestinian resistance groups carried out Operation al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

US billionaires join to ‘change Israel narrative’

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that American business leaders and billionaires had set up a WhatsApp group to influence public opinion on Israel’s aggression in Gaza.

The group, with over 100 members and titled Israel Current Events, was created days after the surprise attack by Palestinians on the occupied territories to “change the narrative” on Israel, including by conveying “the atrocities committed by Hamas... to all Americans”, the report said.

Among the business leaders in the group were the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell, and Joshua Kushner, a financier and brother to Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

They also urged New York City’s mayor to use police to disperse a pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University.

Barry Sternlicht, a real estate tycoon who set up the Whatsapp group, said in October that the group’s mission was to help “win the war” of public opinion in the US while Israel worked to “win the physical war.”

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