U.S. demands

Biden White House not satisfied with Israeli changes on Gaza: ‘We want to see much more’

Military assistance to Israel now faces growing opposition from congressional Democrats

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on energy as (L-R) Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein listen during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Days after the White House warned Israel to change course on its policy in Gaza or face consequences from the United States, senior Biden administration officials reiterated that the threat still stands — and that early steps Israel has taken to remedy the humanitarian crisis are not enough to quell U.S. dissatisfaction.

“We’ve seen them take initial steps here over the past few days, but we want to see much more,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a press briefing on Monday. “We are going to be watching them over the coming days, the coming weeks, to see that the steps they have announced actually lead to improved results, and we will make assessments and make determinations of our policy based on those results.” 

The Biden administration’s demand that Israel implement changes in Gaza came after an Israeli airstrike killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, drawing loud condemnation from Democrats in Washington. While an Israel Defense Forces investigation found that the strike was not intentional, two officers were dismissed from their posts as a result of what the IDF called a “serious failure.” 

Responding to the White House threat, which President Joe Biden relayed to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a call last Thursday, Israel announced several changes. Over the weekend, Israel agreed to open the northern Erez crossing into Gaza and the Ashdod port to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid, and to allow additional aid to enter through Jordan. On Sunday, more than 300 aid trucks entered Gaza — the most of any single day since the war started — and on Monday, more than 400 trucks entered Gaza.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby called the 300 aid trucks that entered Gaza a “good start” but told reporters on Monday that “what matters is how it can be sustained over time.” 

U.S. military assistance to Israel faces growing opposition from congressional Democrats, with some seeking conditions on weapons transfers and others demanding the U.S. cease further assistance altogether. The White House has not publicly expressed support for either cutting or conditioning aid to Israel. But the Biden administration has not said what policy changes the U.S. is considering toward Israel if it does not meet Washington’s demands on Gaza, nor has it offered a realistic metric for when it will be satisfied with Israel’s conduct. 

“I don’t want to stand here today and say that everything has been solved, because we’re not ready to say that,” said Miller. “We have seen good initial steps, but we want to see how they’re actually implemented to make sure that there is no Palestinian in Gaza who is going hungry, and until we get to that point, we’re not going to be satisfied.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.