Jul 14, 2022 - World

Biden to ask Israel to increase military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden (C) and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz (L), tour Israel's defence system at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on July 13, 2022, with caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid (
President Biden and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) tour Israel's defense system with acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will ask acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid during their meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday to increase Israel's military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials said in a briefing with reporters.

Why it matters: The issue of weapons supply is one of the last policy differences between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to the war in Ukraine.

The big picture: Under pressure from the Biden administration, Israel has adjusted its policy toward Moscow and gradually taken a more pro-Ukraine position than it did when Russia began its invasion in February. But Israel has so far not supplied advanced weaponry to Ukraine.

  • Ukraine has also asked Israel several times for counter-drone systems, but the requests have been rejected. Before the war, Israel agreed to sell these systems to Ukraine, but the license was frozen when the invasion began.
  • Lapid, who took office as acting prime minister two weeks ago, has taken a more hawkish line against Russia since the invasion started.

State of play: Ahead of Biden’s visit, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved the delivery of additional equipment to emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine.

  • The delivery will include 1,500 helmets, 1,500 protective vests, hundreds of protective suits for mine clearance, 1,000 gas masks and other equipment, the Israeli Ministry of Defense said.

What they're saying: “We are happy with the new assistance Israel announced in recent days, but there are specific needs Ukraine has that we are going to talk about with the Israelis," a senior U.S. official told reporters.

The big picture: Earlier this week, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the U.S. has intelligence that shows Iran is preparing to deliver to Russia up to several hundred drones, including armed drones for the Russian military operations in Ukraine.

What to watch: During their meeting, Biden and Lapid will also discuss Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the normalization process between Israel and several Arab states, mainly Saudi Arabia.

Go deeper: Steps toward Saudi-Israel normalization expected around Biden visit

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