White House walks diplomatic tightrope on Israel amid contradictory messaging: 'You can't have it both ways'

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The Biden administration has been taking criticism as of late for what some have described as conflicting messaging on key subjects relating to the United States’ top Mideast ally: Israel.

During a daily briefing last week, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the administration’s attestation to an “ironclad commitment” to Israel while “slow-walk[ing] arms sales.”

Jean-Pierre replied, in part, by reiterating America’s commitment to Israeli security remains “ironclad.”

Meanwhile, President Biden himself pledged that if the Israel Defense Forces incur substantively into the southern Gazan city of 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.”


Several lawmakers have taken issue with the administration’s stance, including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who called the president’s recent tack “another shortsighted decision by Biden that undermines our allies, emboldens our adversaries, and sends the message that the U.S. is unreliable.”

“Our adversaries would love nothing more than to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel,” Rogers told Fox News Digital in a statement Friday. “Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas and Iran.”

Rogers’ counterpart in the Senate, Armed Services Committee ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also called out Biden over a May 8 Associated Press report that the U.S. indeed paused a shipment of bombs in response to Israel potentially making a decision on a “full-scale assault” on Rafah.

“If Hamas laid down its weapons, the war would be over. But if Israel lays down its weapons, it would be the end of Israel,” Wicker said. 


“Unfortunately, President Biden has this backwards. He has withheld arms for our staunchest ally one day then professed solidarity with the Jewish people the next,” the Magnolia State lawmaker added.

Former National Security Council official Victoria Coates said of the administration’s conflicting messaging, “you can’t have it both ways.”

“You’re going to have to pick a team and put on a jersey and get in a fight. And the administration is desperately trying to please both sides,” Coates said.

“And what they’ve achieved is that both sides are very angry with them. So, you know, it’s it’s just a massive failure both on the policy and the political front.”

Two other GOP senators, Ted Budd of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa, wrote the White House a detailed letter demanding issue-specific answers from Biden on his comments on arms sales and Rafah.

Some of the questions posed included demands on which types of ammunition are reportedly being withheld, whether any arms withheld were part of those directly approved by Congress in a recent supplemental appropriation, and how such reports square with the president’s April 23 pledge to “make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and terrorists it supports.”

“Why did your administration fail to notify Congress about this decision to withhold assistance to Israel?” Ernst and Budd asked in the letter. 

“We must give Israel the arms it needs to fight the Hamas terrorists that continue to hold Americans hostage. We call on your administration to immediately restart the weapons shipments to Israel today.”

In a statement, Budd told Fox News Digital one of his constituents, Keith Siegel, remains in Hamas captivity along with seven other U.S. citizens.

“President Biden is making it harder to secure the hostages’ freedom,” Budd said.

Another Republican lawmaker, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul of Texas, called the threat of an arms embargo a “dangerous mistake” and “shortsighted.”

On his Fox News program, “Life, Liberty & Levin,” former Reagan Justice Department chief of staff Mark Levin went so far as to say Biden’s actions have renewed “ancient blood libels against Jews.”

Stateside, Biden has condemned the “ferocious surge of antisemitism in America” and said that “there’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos” only after he tried to clean up comments made during a press gaggle where he said, “I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians …”


The administration has been criticized for declining to take a tough stance against criminal acts committed by some anti-Israel agitators on college campuses or call on law enforcement to step in.

In April, 27 Republican senators wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to demand an update on any efforts to curb the “outbreak of anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist mobs on college campuses.

“These pro-Hamas rioters have effectively shut down college campuses and have literally chased Jewish students away from our schools,” the letter reads in part. “The Department of Education and federal law enforcement must act immediately to restore order, prosecute the mobs who have perpetuated violence and threats against Jewish students, revoke the visas of all foreign nationals (such as exchange students) who have taken part in promoting terrorism, and hold accountable school administrators who have stood by instead of protecting their students.”

In response to the protests, Rep. Michael Lawler, R-N.Y., of whose district 90,000 Jewish U.S. citizens call home, drafted the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which successfully passed the House, 320-91, with some “nay” votes falling on grounds the bill would purportedly infringe upon First Amendment rights. Lawler’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich, Bradford Betz, Greg Norman and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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