Biden Withholds Arms and Aid to Israel Amid Gaza Conflict Criticism

The Biden administration has withheld congressionally approved arms and aid to Israel amid criticism over the country's military strategy against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, sparking controversy and debate among lawmakers and humanitarian groups. The move marks a significant shift in US policy towards Israel, with potential implications for the balance of power in the Middle East and the global response to humanitarian crises." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (the withholding of arms and aid to Israel), the main entities involved (the Biden administration, Israel, and Hamas), and the context of the Gaza conflict. It also highlights the significant actions and implications of the decision, including the potential shift in US policy and its consequences for the region.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Biden Withholds Arms and Aid to Israel Amid Gaza Conflict Criticism

Biden Withholds Arms and Aid to Israel Amid Gaza Conflict Criticism

President Joe Biden's administration has withheld congressionally approved arms and aid to Israel amid criticism over the country's military strategy against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The move has drawn parallels to Donald Trump's impeachment in 2019 over withholding aid to Ukraine and accusations of betraying an American ally.

Why this matters: This decision marks a significant shift in US policy towards Israel, with potential implications for the balance of power in the Middle East and the global response to humanitarian crises. The move could also influence the trajectory of the Gaza conflict, potentially leading to a re-evaluation of the US's role in promoting peace and stability in the region.

Last week, the Biden administration paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs to Israel in an effort to deter a full-scale ground operation in the Gaza city of Rafah. In an interview with CNN, President Biden stated, "If Israel launches this major military operation into Rafah, then there are certain systems that we are not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation."

The decision has generated praise among progressives and Democrats who have questioned Biden's steadfast support for Israel amid the rising civilian death toll in Gaza, which has topped 35,000 according to the Gaza health ministry. However, it has also prompted criticism from Israel supporters and Republicans, who accuse the White House of hampering Israel's offensive against Hamas.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized that while the US is committed to Israel's defense, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has failed to provide a plan for safely relocating nearly a million Gazans from Rafah before any potential invasion. "We still believe it would be a mistake to launch a major military operation into the heart of Rafah that would put huge numbers of civilians at risk without a clear strategic gain," Sullivan stated.

The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, a Republican-led bill that would force President Biden to send the withheld military assistance to Israel. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the legislation, saying, "We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the president's ability to deliver aid."

The bill is expected to highlight growing tensions within the Democratic party over the pause in arms shipments and resurface broader divisions over the administration's handling of the war. Some Democrats, particularly younger progressive members like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, have splintered off from the party's traditional staunch support of Israel.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas began seven months ago, with Rafah emerging as a city where many civilians have sought shelter. A recent State Department report sent to Congress raised "substantial questions" regarding Israel's efforts to protect civilians in Gaza, suggesting that Israel may have violated international laws in some instances. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized Hamas's responsibility for starting the conflict and the challenges its tactics pose to protecting civilians.

The Biden administration's decision to withhold arms and aid to Israel marks a significant shift in US policy, as the country has long been a staunch ally and supporter of Israel's military efforts. The move underscores the administration's concerns over the scale of civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict and the potential consequences of further escalation. As the fighting continues and diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire remain ongoing, the future of US military support for Israel hangs in the balance.

Key Takeaways

  • US withholds arms and aid to Israel amid Gaza conflict, citing civilian casualties.
  • Biden administration pauses bomb shipment to deter full-scale ground operation.
  • Move sparks praise from progressives, criticism from Israel supporters and Republicans.
  • US House to vote on bill forcing President Biden to send withheld military aid.
  • Decision marks significant shift in US policy towards Israel, with implications for Middle East balance.