Washington Post: Biden May Limit Arms to Israel If It Attacks Hamas in Rafah

Washington Post: Biden May Limit Arms to Israel If It Attacks Hamas in Rafah
Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas moveme
SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images

The Washington Post published a report Wednesday that the Biden Administration may limit arms transfers to Israel if it attacks the remaining four Hamas battalions in Rafah, a city on the Egyptian border in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel must enter Rafah to destroy Hamas and win the war. His war cabinet is considering a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians north of the city before a military operation.

David Ignatius, a columnist known for his sources in government, published the story, likely leaked from the White House:

The Biden administration, worried about a new humanitarian catastrophe, appears to be considering ways to prevent Israel from using U.S. weapons if it attacks the densely populated area around the city of Rafah.

President Biden and senior advisers haven’t made any decision about imposing “conditionality” on U.S. weapons. But the very fact that officials seem to be debating this extreme step shows the administration’s growing concern about the crisis in Gaza — and its sharp disagreement with Israeli leaders over a Rafah assault.

Behind the growing tension with Netanyahu is Biden’s feeling that Israel hasn’t been listening to U.S. warnings and advice, and that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been a one-way street. The administration feels it supports Israeli interests, at considerable political cost at home and abroad, while Netanyahu isn’t responsive to American requests. Israel argues that any space between U.S. and Israeli policy only benefits Hamas. But Israel doesn’t make compromises to narrow that gap.

There seems to be no concern inside the Administration — at least, not in Ignatius’s reporting — that allowing Hamas to survive in Rafah would doom the entire Israeli war effort to failure, since it would let Hamas survive and regroup.

Nor does there seem to be any thought that the best humanitarian outcome would be to let Israel end the war soon, rather than dragging out the conflict through pauses, and delays in action against the terrorist group that started it.

President Biden had personally set expectations for a hostage deal with Hamas by this past Monday, which would have brought about a six-week pause in fighting. On Thursday, Hamas left Cairo, Egypt, without concluding any agreement.

Israel had previously set March 10, the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as a deadline for an agreement. (The Israeli government wished Muslims worldwide a “Ramadan kareem,” a “generous Ramadan,” on Thursday.)

Like the Obama administration before it, what the Biden Administration insists on interpreting as Israeli intransigence may simply be the fact that Israel is dealing with reality, while the White House is still dealing in wishful thinking.

The Biden Administration is also thought to be responding to domestic pressures, including anti-Israel protests by staff inside the administration, and threats by Muslim voters in key swing states not to support Biden in the 2024 election.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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