Liberal Democrats in the U.S. Senate last month blocked a vote to condemn Israel’s planned sale of $2.7 billion in advanced Israeli weaponry, which would include Phantom jets, Super Hornets and Apache helicopters. The move is the first time a liberal-dominated Congress has signaled opposition to a major arms sale.
Analysts, diplomats and congressional aides say the Democratic strategy, even if it fails to secure the votes it needs to pass, highlights the importance Democrats attached to U.S.-Israel relations as a keystone to the moral conscience of the nation. To sell U.S. weapons to Israel, they said, is to show they support a key ally.
“It’s in the American interest, to engage Israel, to make the U.S. a leading partner in the Middle East peace process,” said a Democratic aide, who asked not to be identified. “Once we distance ourselves from Israel, we are not a partner.”
But some in the region say that attacking Israel’s sale wouldn’t work, because it is now among America’s few major arms deals.