May 14, 2024 | Flash Brief

White House Denies Withholding Intelligence on Hamas From Israel

May 14, 2024 | Flash Brief

White House Denies Withholding Intelligence on Hamas From Israel

Latest Developments

The White House on May 13 denied reports that it is withholding sensitive intelligence from Israel that could help the Jewish state prosecute its war against Hamas. Citing four unnamed U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported on May 12 that the Biden administration offered to share intelligence with Israel about Hamas tunnels and the whereabouts of senior Hamas leadership if Israel agreed to limit its Rafah operation. However, the Biden administration asserted the next day that intelligence sharing is “ongoing.” “We’re not holding anything back,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council told Fox News.

Expert Analysis

“The Biden administration could be protecting state sponsors of Hamas by withholding some intelligence obtained outside of Gaza that could be useful for Israel in hunting down Hamas leaders and finding more hostages. There could conceivably be some intelligence gathered in Gaza that is being withheld as well. Any holding back of intelligence sharing would be a disgrace of historic proportions, particularly as Hamas is still holding American citizens as hostages.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Congress should investigate whether assertions by unnamed Washington Post sources are true. At the same time, the administration should make it amply and unequivocally clear that it has not and will not withhold intelligence from Israel aimed at identifying the whereabouts of Hamas operatives. If Biden advisors are attempting to message conflicting narratives to different audiences for political reasons, the strategy will redound negatively to America’s national security. And that surely won’t be helpful to the president.” — Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director of FDD Action

Biden Administration Withholding Arms

Senior U.S. officials told reporters on May 7 that the Biden administration decided to pause shipments of offensive weapons to Israel over Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah. The next day, President Joe Biden admitted during a CNN interview that he was intentionally withholding key munitions from Israel in opposition to the Rafah operation, adding that he was prepared to further restrict the supply of weaponry if Israel launched a full-scale military operation in the southern Gaza city. “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,” Biden said. “We’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells.”

Congress Pushes Back

Senate Republicans introduced a resolution on May 9 condemning the Biden administration’s decision to withhold weapons from Israel and demanding that weapons shipments resume. Every Republican senator except Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cosponsored the resolution. On May 10, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, introduced the Israeli Security Assistance Support Act, which reaffirms America’s commitment to Israel’s self-defense by prohibiting the administration from withholding, halting, reversing, or otherwise canceling “the delivery of defense articles and defense services from the United States to Israel.” It also mandates the prompt delivery of weapons to Israel and withholds funding for the offices of the secretary of defense and secretary of state until they certify that the United States is delivering these systems.

On May 10, twenty-six Democrats in the House sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that urged the administration to reassert Biden’s earlier statements affirming Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel. “With democracy under assault around the world, we cannot undermine our ally Israel, especially in her greatest hour of need,” stated the letter led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Jared Golden (D-ME). “America’s commitments must always be ironclad.”

Biden Faces Bipartisan Criticism for Withholding Key Arms from Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Reports Claim U.S. Delaying Munitions to Send Message to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Biden may be holding up ammo to Israel — Congress must stop him,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy