Biden under investigation after threat to Israel’s offensive aid: ‘playing political games’

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The House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into the Biden administration over its threats to withhold offensive aid from Israel if it proceeds with a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., questioned both the decision-making process and the timing of the announcement itself in a letter to President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.

He also requested a congressional briefing from the White House National Security Council in addition to communications and other documents related to discussions about pausing any kind of aid to Israel, with a deadline of May 24.

“The Committee is alarmed by the Biden administration’s willingness to play political games with U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance going to Israel,” Comer wrote in a letter signed by Republicans on the Oversight Committee. “On May 9, 2024, President Biden made public that he would not supply offensive weapons that Israel could use in its offensive on Rafah—the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza.”

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left split: Rep. James Comer; right split: President Joe Biden

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is opening an investigation into President Biden’s decision to withhold offensive aid from Israel if it invades Rafah in Gaza. (Getty Images)

“Further reporting indicates that the National Security Council actively chose to withhold this information from the public eye for days, in part so that news of the decision would not be known when President Biden delivered a speech touting support for Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Committee seeks a briefing, as well as documents and information related to this decision, including any legal justification for withholding essential supplies from Israel in its fight against Hamas terrorists who still have Israeli and American hostages.”

Biden made the high-stakes ultimatum to Israel’s government in a CNN interview that aired Wednesday night as it prepares for a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The city is currently home to more than a million Palestinians who left other parts of the Gaza Strip, where Israel has conducted its mission to eradicate the terrorist group Hamas.

“The idea that we would cut off military aid to an ally, our only true, true ally in the entire region, is absolutely preposterous. It’s just beyond my comprehension anyone would do that.”

— Then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in a 2019 PBS interview

Biden said Israel would continue to see U.S. support for its defensive systems, like the Iron Dome, in the CNN interview. He added, however, that “if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem.”

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smoke rising over Gaza in background, tent in foreground

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on buildings near the separating wall between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, May 7. (AP/Ramez Habboub)

“The Committee finds both the decision to withhold essential military aid and hiding that decision from the public for political purposes disturbing, especially given that on President Biden’s first day in office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pledged that the administration would, ‘bring transparency and truth back to government.’ Hiding information from the public for political gain does not meet this Committee’s definition of transparency,” Comer wrote.

“The Biden administration’s priorities appear to be motivated by public perception, and not what is best for national security or diplomacy.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment.

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White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby suggested to reporters on Thursday that Israel was aware of the Biden administration’s warning about offensive aid before his CNN interview and stressed that Israel has yet to wage a full invasion of Rafah’s population centers.

“The President said yesterday that if Israel in fact proceeds with a major ground operation in Rafah, he will not provide certain categories of weapons to support such an operation.  The Israeli government has understood this for some time,” Kirby said.

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“He also said yesterday that he will continue to ensure that Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas.  For him, this is straightforward: He will continue to provide Israel with all of capabilities it needs, but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And again, he has been clear and consistent with that.”

Notably, however, Biden said of Israel aid in a 2019 PBS interview, “The idea that we would cut off military aid to an ally, our only true, true ally in the entire region, is absolutely preposterous. It’s just beyond my comprehension anyone would do that.”

The House Oversight Committee has already been investigating the Biden administration’s funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), after staffers for the refugee organization were accused of links to the October 7, 2023, Hamas terror attack in southern Israel.

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