After a double betrayal fails to sway Israel, the Biden administration tries extortion

With friends like President Joe Biden, who needs enemies?

In a report released to Congress on Friday, the Biden administration concluded it was “reasonable to assess” that Israel had violated international humanitarian law using U.S. arms in Gaza. Although the report states that U.S officials were unable to “link specific U.S. weapons to individual strikes by Israeli forces in Gaza” due to “wartime conditions,” it claims “there have been sufficient reported incidents to raise serious concerns.” 

The following sentence tells you all you need to know: “[T]he State Department has received reporting from multiple credible UN and non-governmental sources on alleged human rights violations by Israeli forces during the reporting period.” 

The Washington Post reported that Biden ordered the investigation in February after congressional Democrats, led by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, proposed legislation to determine whether the IDF had used U.S.-provided arms in an unlawful manner in Gaza.

This report comes just days after Biden paused a shipment of 3,500 bombs to Israel to deter them from invading Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza. Unless and until Israel can eliminate Hamas’s four remaining battalions in Rafah and the group’s leaders who are believed to be hiding there, they cannot defeat Hamas. 

Biden is placing conditions on a close ally while its brutal enemy faces no restrictions at all. 

On Saturday, “four people familiar with the U.S. offers” (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) told the Washington Post that the Biden administration had offered to share sensitive intelligence with the Israelis that could pinpoint the precise locations of top Hamas officials if they would pull back from a “full-scale” invasion of Rafah. 

If the U.S. has information that could lead to the capture of terrorist leaders, it should have been shared with the Israelis immediately and unconditionally. The idea that they are using game-changing intelligence as a bargaining chip to control an ally that is fighting for its very survival is truly despicable. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told Fox News on Sunday he considers this to be extortion. It is extortion.

The sources also said the U.S. had offered to “help provide thousands of shelters so Israel can build tent cities — and to help with the construction of delivery systems for food, water and medicine — so that Palestinians evacuated from Rafah can have a habitable place to live.” Does anyone recall the Allies’ concern about aid for civilians as they carpet bombed Germany during World War II?

Obsessed as the Biden administration has been with providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza, they have forbidden the most humanitarian solution of all: allowing them the opportunity to seek asylum in nearby countries. 

While it’s true that neighboring nations such as Egypt and Jordan have flatly refused to accept them – because they know that where Palestinians go, trouble follows – the U.S. does have a certain amount of leverage with these governments by virtue of the aid the U.S. provides to them. If ever there was a time to exert pressure on Egypt and Jordan, it’s now. Lord knows that Biden administration officials haven’t been shy about strong-arming Israel into submission.

In a recent op-ed, the Wall Street Journal’s Elliot Kaufman called Biden’s unwillingness to press the Egyptian government to accept Palestinian refugees his “biggest mistake of the Gaza War.” Instead of helping these individuals to “flee the conflict as refugees,” he argued, the U.S. has “provided Egypt cover” to reject them.

“When you hear that Gazans are ‘trapped,’ you are encountering a Biden policy choice,” Kaufman wrote. “It didn’t have to be this way. Gaza’s Rafah borders Egypt, a U.S. ally that relies on $1.3 billion in U.S. aid a year. In contravention of international law, Egypt has sealed its border to Gazan refugees next door. Mr. Biden hasn’t lifted a finger to stop it.”

He continued, “On the contrary, the administration embraced Egypt’s position early on and demanded that Israel not ‘displace’ civilians into Egypt. ‘No forcible displacement’ became Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s absurd mantra as Gazans were massing at the border and begging to be allowed out.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board made a similar point in a March op-ed: “Only when it can damage Israel does it become the liberal position to close the borders and keep refugees penned in a war zone.”

There’s no telling how many civilian lives could have been saved if they had been allowed to flee Gaza in October. The unwillingness of Israel’s Arab neighbors to offer refuge to their Palestinian brethren – and the Biden administration’s firm support of this position – stands in stark contrast to actions taken by their European counterparts following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ultimately, more than 6 million Ukrainian refugees fled the bloodshed and were welcomed with open arms by citizens in Poland, Hungary, and other Central European and Eastern European nations.

Does Biden honestly think he will win the 2024 election by pandering to the pro-Hamas wing of his party? Does he naturally assume that Jewish voters in the U.S., who have been a reliable Democratic voting bloc for decades, will stick with him in November? This may prove to be a terrible miscalculation. 

In an email to Biden aides Steve Ricchetti and Anita Dunn last week, Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban, an Israeli-American music and television producer, wrote: “Let’s not forget there are more Jewish voters who care about Israel than Muslim voters who care about Hamas.”

Biden would be wise to listen.


A previous version of this article appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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