Sullivan rules out red lines for Israel in Gaza, reiterates Rafah concerns

Sullivan rules out red lines for Israel in Gaza, reiterates Rafah concerns
Sullivan's comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his plans to invade Gaza's southern city of Rafah.
3 min read
13 March, 2024
During a press conference Jake Sullivan refused to engage in what he called 'hypotheticals' regarding US restrictions on Israel [Kent Nishimura for The Washington Post via Getty Images]

The Biden Administration has ruled out red lines regarding Israel's war on Gaza and a potential Israeli invasion of Rafah following comments made by President Joe Biden on the weekend.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan denied in a press conference that Biden had issued a red line on future Israeli actions during an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.

Sullivan said Biden was focused on ensuring the protection of civilians in Gaza, as well as sustaining Israel's campaign to ensure Israeli security, Hamas' defeat, and for peace and stability in the region.

He said that Biden "believes there is a path to do that and that path does not lie in smashing into Rafah, where there are 1.3 million people, in the absence of a credible plan to deal with the population there".

Asked whether an invasion of Rafah was a red line during the MSNBC interview, Biden answered, "It is a red line but I'm never going to leave Israel," adding, "There's no red line (in which) I'm going to cut off all weapons so they don't have the Iron Dome to protect them."

During the interview, Biden also said that Israel's actions were hurting it more than helping it, and that it could not kill another 30,000 Palestinians in order to defeat Hamas.

Israel's war on Gaza, which has been ongoing since 7 October, has killed 31,272 Palestinians and injured 73,024.

Over a million people have been displaced from their homes as a result, with north Gaza suffering from an emerging famine as Israel restricts flows of aid into the besieged area.

According to Axios, US officials doubt Israel can conduct an operation in Rafah without mass civilian casualties, with some adding that the US may impose restrictions on the use of US-made weapons by Israel and allow for the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Sullivan added at the press conference that he wasn't going to engage with hypotheticals and that reports on US restrictions were "uninformed speculation".

Sullivan's comments come following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence that Israel would invade Gaza's southern city of Rafah.

In a speech to AIPAC on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: "To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah. If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm and reconquer Gaza and then we're back to square one. And that's an intolerable threat that we cannot accept."

Netanyahu also railed against the international criticism Israel has received, which includes an International Court of Justice verdict that determined Israel was plausibly committing genocide in Gaza.

Live Story

"My friends, I want to assure you, none of these pressures will stop us. Israel's very future, its very survival is at stake. We have no other option but total victory and that victory is in and within reach."

Netanyahu also rejected Biden's criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza during an interview with Politico where he disputed Gaza's death toll and rejected the idea of an independent Palestinian state.