White House not seeking conditions on military aid to Israel, says senator

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

After the Biden administration appeared to leave open the possibility that the US might condition aid to Israel in the future, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told lawmakers this week that the White House isn’t seeking conditions on the aid for Jerusalem that it is asking Congress to pass.

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was among lawmakers who met privately with Sullivan on Tuesday, tells The Associated Press that Sullivan “made it clear that the White House is not asking for any conditionality in aid. So I want to leave that very clear.” A second person directly familiar with the meeting confirmed the account.

During the meeting, Sullivan took questions from Senate Democrats about how the administration would ensure that any American weapons provided to Israel would be used in accordance with US law, AP reports.

Several progressive Democrats have called for conditioning aid to Israel, as the civilian casualty figures in Gaza increase along with frustration over Israel’s conduct in the West Bank.

Asked last week about the proposal, Biden said it was a “worthwhile thought,” but argued that he would not have managed to secure the release of hostages, the increase of aid into Gaza and the implementation of a temporary ceasefire had he taken a more hardline approach toward Israel.

Still, his top aides refused to categorically rule out the idea of conditioning aid when asked in several interviews earlier this week.

Sullivan’s remarks to lawmakers appeared to all but put the proposal — which wouldn’t be able to pass Congress regardless — to bed.

AP contributed to this report.

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