McCaul says Rafah invasion is ‘last step’ for Israeli military ‘objective’

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) argued Sunday that Israel’s invasion of Rafah is the final step in completing its military campaign in Gaza, as President Biden threatens to halt weapons in the case of a full-scale invasion.

“Now, of course, you want the conditions with humanitarian to be in place. Of course, you want the tenets in place, but to say you cannot invade Rafah … we’re telling the Israelis, dictating their military strategy,” McCaul said Sunday in an interview with ABC News’s ‘This Week. “This is a last point and a last step in the completion of their military objective.”

Biden last week warned he would halt offensive weapon supplies to Israel, including bombs and artillery shells, should the country’s forces launch an invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza. The White House has repeatedly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against sending forces into Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are seeking refuge from the violence.

“For us to step in and say, ‘No, you can’t go into Rafah and finish a job’ … I think it’s tantamount to an arms embargo,” McCaul said.

Netanyahu has long maintained that moving into Rafah is necessary to go after the leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that has run the Gaza Strip since 2007 and carried out the Oct. 7 surprise assault against Israel that killed about 1,200 people.

McCaul suggested Biden’s warning “may not matter,” given Netanyahu’s stance.

“With respect to Israel, Netanyahu said — and I’ve talked to him — ‘I’m going to do this alone if I have to,'” McCaul said. “Where it matters, is the signal and the message we’re sending the rest of the world that you can’t count on the United States, can’t trust the United States. Our allies … and our enemies see this as well.”

Biden’s threat to halt the weapons drew criticism from several Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (La.), who said he hopes Biden was having a “senior moment” when he made the threat.

He suggested Biden’s comments violated what the Speaker thought were promises to guarantee Johnson’s support for the $95 billion emergency foreign aid package.

“I hope — I believe he’s off-script,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s something that staff told him to say. I hope it’s a senior moment, because that would be a great deviation in what is said to be the policy there.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called the threat “disgusting” and accused Biden of being a part of the “pro-Hamas” group of the Democratic party.

In a statement to The Hill last week, a senior Biden administration official said, “President Biden shares Israel’s goal of dismantling Hamas and he has done more than any world leader to support Israel as it has defended itself since October 7.”

“The President was very clear last [week], as he has always been: While the United States will continue ensure that Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas, he does not want to provide material support to an operation we oppose – especially since we believe there are alternate ways that Israel can accomplish its objectives,” the official added.

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